UVU Aviation Online Alumnus - Philip Ellis

"Certainly, finishing a degree shows work ethic and passion for learning. From my experience, they like hiring those who are teachable."

How did you get involved in aviation and what made you select it as a career?

I started just part-time on the ramp in Houston with American Eagle Airlines in 2012, as I was finishing my Associate Degree in general studies. I fell in love with the detailed, high-pace work environment of aviation. Every day is different and I wanted to work my way up in the airline world. I thought there was no better way than to pursue aviation science with an emphasis on management. The airline benefits were also a big draw; the ability to see the world is amazing!

What made you decide to begin pursuing a degree? What made you select UVU for your degree?

I began pursuing a degree in aviation science when I decided that I wanted to be a part of something unique and different every day. Every day in aviation presents a new challenge! I chose UVU because of the great outdoors in Utah, the affordability, and the fact that the professors really make you feel noticed; it is a unique university that is on the rise! My degree and education at UVU has given me the greater confidence in pursuing a higher calling at American Airlines and any future airline I consider. It shows hiring managers that you can finish a difficult task and that you're dedicated to the airline world, to try and make it better than it already is.

How did the online program help you achieve your goal of a degree while holding down a job? Did your degree help you get your current position as an Aircraft Router?

Doing online classes while working full-time provided tons of flexibility and the professors were always super helpful in responding to questions; it certainly helped me improve on self management and priorities. I do feel the degree added additional support to my resume and foundation when I interviewed, but the airlines really do look at character and who you are as a person. Certainly finishing a degree shows work ethic and passion for learning. From my experience, they like hiring those who are teachable.

Describe your current position as an Aircraft Router.

For aircraft routing, the day to day varies depending the fleet I'm managing.  Each router works a different fleet (737 day of work, 737 future routing, 777, MD80, 320, 787, 757).  In simple terms, I sit down and review the fleet and maintenance items that need work done.  Each aircraft has a list of items that need maintenance and each item can only be done at specific stations (like DFW, JFK, LAX, etc); I then route the planes on different city pairs to get to the right station.  You could say I'm putting together a puzzle and taking it apart lots during the shift (8 hr shifts either starting at 0600, 1400, or 2200).  Dispatchers/equipment coordinators will call me (they act as a liaison between the airport and IOC) to ask for an aircraft swap when a plane is running late or out of service.  I then tell them after reviewing the aircraft maintenance and restrictions, whether the swap is approved or not.  I am learning every day about the health of every aircraft and what it takes to run a smooth operation.  A good perk of my management position is that I can swap shifts with other employees to get more time off, so some days I will work 16 hours but some weeks I am off the whole week (in addition to vacation time); this helps take advantage of flight benefits and helps to de-stress!  There are currently 30 aircraft routers in the whole airline, along with 20 on the US Air side (still one of the few departments where the airline hasn't fully merged).

How has aviation changed you as a person?

Aviation has made me more patient and helped me appreciate the beauty and miracle of flight. It has also improved my communication skills, as I am always speaking with people of all operational departments.

What advice would you give to those considering an Aviation Management degree?

I would definitely say 'keep an open mind' and pursue with passion.  Airlines like persistence and you won't always get the exact job you want first. For example, my entry level management job was pilot crew scheduling, something I wasn't too thrilled about but was excited to finally get in the door of the Integrated Operations Center (AA's headquarters for all things operational management).  I put my best foot forward, learned lots about the pilot contracts and FARs, and kept positive.  When it came to move on to a better management position within aircraft routing, I had a good reference from previous management.  In addition, moving to a city like Dallas, where headquarters is for American, helped lots.  Take chances!

What year did you graduate from UVU?

May 2018

Career Progression

2012 - Ramp, American Eagle Airlines, Houston (now Envoy)

2015 - Ramp, US Airways, Salt Lake City (now American Airlines)

2017 - Senior Tower Planner, American Airlines, Dallas Fort Worth

2018 - Aircraft Router, American Airlines, Fort Worth

Words of Wisdom

Keep a humble state of mind with gratitude and optimism, and you will get noticed by the right airline. Remember, attitude determines altitude!