Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has a new vice president of flight operations. The carrier announced that Dave Mets, a seasoned first officer and captain, assumed the role on Monday. Mets will supervise the airline’s daily flight operations division, which includes more than 3,000 pilots. In addition, he will oversee the division’s financial performance.
The move is more of a permanent one for Mets, a 23-year veteran at Alaska. Since April, he has served as interim vice president of flight operations. Before becoming interim VP, he was a base chief pilot for the carrier at Seattle Tacoma International Airport and Portland International Airport in Oregon.
Photo: Alaska Airlines
Constance von Muehlen, Alaska Airlines’ Chief Operating Officer, is confident in Alaska’s board of directors’ decision.
“Anyone who knows Dave knows that he is a thoughtful, hard-working and caring leader. Dave’s impeccable track record in flight operations demonstrates his commitment to safety, transparent leadership and focus on operational excellence. Alaska will benefit from the highest standards to which he holds himself and his team.” – Constance von Muehlen, Alaska Airlines’ Chief Operating Officer
Decades of experience in the industry
Mets graduated from the US Air Force Academy and spent 25 years on active duty and in the Air Force Reserve. In the military, he has experience as an instructor pilot on the Lockheed C-141B Starlifter. He also has experience as an aircraft commander in the Boeing C-17 Globemaster and a satellite launch countdown controller in the NAVSTAR GPS program at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Mets spent time in the C-17 in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq and resupplying at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
Mets started his journey with Alaska as a first officer on the Boeing 737-200 in 1999. Throughout his career, he gained more experience serving in various positions with increased responsibility.
After becoming a senior first officer, Mets became a flight operations duty officer at Alaska. On Talking Flight, an airline pilot podcast, he shared that his primary responsibility was to be a resource to pilots from the ground. Mets said he would provide important information to flight crews to help them make decisions, and he had the authority to ground flights if weather conditions were unsafe.
Photo: Alaska Airlines
A captain’s responsibility
When Mets became a captain at Alaska, he attributed the training curriculum that prepared him. He recalled his struggles during training and when he realized the true responsibility a captain has. Mets said,
“You really felt like you were capable; but I don’t know that you really felt like you were sure you were ready, cause they’re about to sign you off and hand you the keys to this jet and this hundred-and-seventy-some-odd people in the back of it. That’s a moment I think in every commercial airline pilot’s career where they kind of have to step back and reflect a little bit.”
Mets’ experience as a captain benefits him in his new role that focuses on Alaska Airlines’ 3,500 pilots. He has recently been crucial in securing a new collective bargaining agreement with the airline’s pilots. Additionally, he leads the flight operations division in Alaska’s transition to an all-Boeing fleet.