Touching down with the former Chief Pilot
Mar 10, 2023
What makes XO such a unique experience for our flyers (beyond easy accessibility and the instant booking capability of our app) are the pilots. They are outstanding in both their technological skill and their dedication to our passengers.
To learn more, here is an interview with the former Chief Pilot, Jay Heppner, now promoted to VP, Flight Operations; Director of Operations at XOJET Aviation.
XO: Jay, your background is just extraordinary. Did I read it right, six years flying for the Air Force, 33 years for United?
Jay: Yes, and four years flying helicopters for the Army National Guard, I was also elected to the United Airlines Board of Directors.
XO: Talk for a moment about technology.
Jay: It's critical. In-app booking is the future. Our consumers love that they can book flights and answer TSA questions right on their phones. Technology also helps us reduce empty flights, which in turn reduces our carbon footprint and emissions. Everything we can do there is critical.
XO: You have a personal connection with technology, don't you?
Jay: You did your research for sure! My final paper at the Air Force Academy was an Operations Research program that scheduled airline flights, recognizing passenger load factors and other variables. It was a long time ago and was very complex. The processing power makes that easier now, and XO is all over it.
XO: What inspired you to get back in the cockpit?
Jay: I'm not done. I love flying - I've flown everything from jets to helicopters to props. I also love to be engaged with everything; I do the flight planning, load the baggage, even clean the aircraft. There are no delegated duties; it's a team effort—a family atmosphere.
XO: How many types of aircraft are you type rated in?
Jay: Currently eleven.
XO: Which is the most recent?
Jay: I completed CRJ-200 training in July so I could fly on our new Shared Flight operation.
XO: Have you enjoyed flying the XO Shared product and the interactions with passengers?
Jay: I love it! I have flown it often enough to see our repeat passengers and have a friendly relationship with many of them.
XO: How many times have you flown the XO branded CRJ-200? And when do you expect to get back on the flight deck?
Jay: I flew the CRJ-200 almost every scheduled flight in January and a few flights in February. I expect to fly the airplane again this month and several times in April to continually assess the operation.
XO: What do you see as the future of private aviation?
Jay: We are the future, and we are here now. XO offers personalized and efficient travel while avoiding the long lines and delays associated with commercial air travel. Overall, the future of private aviation looks bright, with continued growth and innovation driven by consumer demand and technological advancements.