An internship with Southwest Airlines is helping a Kansas State University aviation student put what she learned in the classroom to good use.
Brooke Roman, senior in professional pilot from Nixa, Mo., has been serving a four-month internship with Southwest Airlines at its headquarters in Dallas since Sept. 9. Her duties include working with the airline’s electronic flight bag — or EFB — team in its trial phase of transitioning pilots from using paper charts to electronic charts on iPads. Roman’s job is reviewing the surveys the pilots participating in the trial complete after each flight. She then passes on their feedback to her managers, who use the information to make any adjustments needed before the airline proceeds with full electronic flight bag deployment.
Currently, 700 pilots are participating in the trial phase, with full deployment set to happen in spring 2014 and involving 7,000+ pilots.
“My K-State education has played a huge role in this aspect of my internship, specifically because K-State requires its flight students to have an iPad and use the app Foreflight for electronic charts,” Roman said. “Although Southwest Airlines does not use Foreflight for its EFB program, the app it is using has many similarities with Foreflight and that has made the transition very easy for me.”
Roman credits the Crew Resource Management — or CRM — class, taught by K-State Salina’s Tom Karcz, assistant professor of aviation, with having her prepared not only for the iPad project, but with other aspects of her internship as well.
Roman said the class taught her what being a true professional pilot entails, including the importance of never deviating from procedures, using all available resources, conserving fuel, being safe and always using checklists. This prepared her, she said, for what Southwest Airlines expects of its pilots.
“When I was asked to write a brief about changes to a procedure, I knew the level of professionalism that needed to go into that brief thanks to my CRM class,” Roman said. “It was a privilege to be tasked with writing a ‘read before fly’ during my internship.”
A “read before fly” is a brief that advises pilots of a new procedure that may affect their next flight. They must read the brief and acknowledge that they have done so before they are allowed to fly again.
Roman said that working with flight operation procedures and experiencing firsthand how an airline really works made her appreciate being an airline worker.
“Every employee plays an important role that keeps the operation running,” Roman said. “I could not be more thankful for this opportunity and the continued support I have received from K-State. I have never been more motivated to get back to class in January and finish all my flight ratings so my career can finally begin, and I have this internship at Southwest to thank for that.”
Roman became interested in flying during her junior year of high school. With the saying, “You’ll never work a day in your life if you love what you do,” in mind, she decided that seeing the world from the view of the cockpit would be something she would always love no matter what.
“Before I started this internship I thought I had an idea of what I might want to do with my aviation career,” Roman said. “But after my first day of being here, I knew that all I wanted to do was fly for an airline one day.”
Roman is the daughter of Todd and Kim Roman, Nixa.
Story written by Darrah Tinkler / K-State Media