Captain Robert Thomas, Chairman, Human Factors and Training Group, ALPA, Intl./
Pilot, United Airlines
Robert Thomas is the Chairman of ALPA Air Safety Organization Human Factors & Training Group. He is responsible for coordinating and addressing the Human Factors and Training policy needs of the association on behalf of more than 59,000 pilots across 35 airlines in the United States and Canada. Robert also serves as Vice Chair of the National Training Council and as the US Human Factors and Training delegate to IFALPA. He previously served as the national Director of Pilot Training and Vice Chairman of the ALPA MEC Training Committee at United Airlines, where he currently flies the 787 and also flew as an Airbus Captain in EWR.
Prior to joining United Airlines, Robert started his airline career at Colgan Air as a pilot and ground instructor, where he also served as an ALPA ASAP program ERC member under the Central Air Safety Committee. During his time at Colgan, Robert developed and facilitated the company’s Crew Resource Management/Threat & Error Management (CRM/TEM) course for pilots. After merging with multiple carriers to form the present-day Endeavor, Robert flew the CL-65 for Air Wisconsin, where he later served as the ALPA MEC Training Committee Chairman and subsequently as the Chief Pilot of the carrier’s Philadelphia domicile.
Robert completed his part 141 flight training and at Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology in Tulsa, OK and earned a B.S. in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. Robert resides in Dalton, PA with his wife Kayci and their two children.
Navigating the Dynamic Challenges of Pilot Supply, Recruitment, Mentorship, and Training
The route to airline recovery following the global Covid-19 pandemic is flush with opportunity for airlines, unions, and regulators to work together and recruit the next generation of aviation professionals, while continuing to ensure they’re properly mentored and trained for safe flight operations.
Covid-19 revealed several opportunities for collaboration within current regulatory structures. United Airlines and ALPA work together to strategically address pilot supply and training challenges that continue to evolve. This panel will focus on key components of current and future recruiting, mentorship, and training initiatives designed to help airlines attract and successfully compete for the next generation of aviation professionals.
Executive leadership from United Airlines will discuss the new AVIATE program, built in collaboration with ALPA, and the role it will play in addressing Next-Gen Aviation pilot screening, recruitment, diversity, and funding. ALPA will also discuss the landscape for pilot training and mentorship initiatives spanning across the union, which includes more than 59,000 pilots represented across 35 airlines in the US and Canada.
The pace, breadth, and duration of the pandemic tested US pilot recruitment and training systems and disrupted even the simplest of practices. Although 2020 brought significant challenges, it was full of opportunity and we will emerge to a new normal. One of our brightest times together is on the horizon, as we prepare for what could rapidly become the most dynamic reversals relative to pilot recruitment and training demand in aviation history. Our collective attention will be on the solutions we create to safely meet that need with a diverse supply of increasingly qualified pilots. As the panel discusses current strategies, the audience will have insight into the unique perspectives from senior executives at one of the world’s largest airlines, alongside human factors, training, and pilot supply experts from the world’s largest pilot union.