The Air Line Pilots Association is continuing its battle against the notion of a pilot shortage by publishing FAA data that shows new ATP certifications on the increase. The union, which has consistently maintained that airline mismanagement and not a shortage of fresh troops is behind the current travel chaos, released FAA data showing that new ATP certifications are on pace to almost double the production rates of the last three years. The media release is a direct challenge to Republic Airways’ request for an exemption from the 1500-hour experience minimum for ATPs to allow graduates of its training program to get in the right seat at 750 hours. It also goes after suggestions that the retirement age for airline pilots be increased.
According to the data compiled by ALPA from FAA information, in the first five months of this year (to June 5) a total of 5,041 new ATPs were issued, more than for the full years of 2021 and 2020. At this pace, the total for this year will be far ahead of the 6,664 produced in 2019. “So, although we don’t have a pilot shortage, we do have a shortage of airline executives willing to stand by their business decisions to cut air service and be upfront about their intentions to skirt safety rules and hire inexperienced workers for less pay,” the union said.
For its part, Republic Airways stressed that it’s not trying to change the current rules. “Republic is not proposing overturning the 1500 hour rule or weakening safety; to the contrary, we are proposing a more intensive, mission-specific training pathway similar to what is permitted for military pilots under current law,” Republic CEO Bryan Bedford told AVweb in an email statement. “Safety is and will always be the top priority for Republic Airways — it is our brand, our business — and with our state-of-the-art training academy we are proposing a pathway supported by data gathered over the course of four years to produce higher performing pilots while reducing significant economic barriers to enable more diversity in our cockpits.”
The waver should be granted. The ALPA wants pilot shortages to increase pay… they should be ignored. 1500 hrs in a Cessna is a horrible and idiotic requirement for an ATP. I see kids just riding around doing time at the flight schools when they could be training as first officers in CRJs.
The entire training of pilots needs revamping. All pilots should be trained to be pilots that don’t crash. There is and should be one standard, even if it means more hours of training for all pilots.
There is not a single maneuver in the commercial check ride that shouldn’t be taught to every pilot. The lack of proper pilot training is killing people daily.
A commercial certificate should be a written regulatory test, not a flight test. A commercial pilot certificate is kind of a useless item anyway. Every 135 operator is required to train and give check rides to make sure the pilot knows how not to crash.
Oddly a commercial certificate can be used to get a instructor certificate… so we have people instructing that can not be trusted to fly people around commercially.
Just think how the public will react with this knowledge… yes, congress will act.
I can’t tell if you’re being serious or sarcastic.
Very serious… pilot training in Americais completely off base. There should be a single pilot certificate. Then each aircraft flown should require a instructor sign off. A C150 isn’t an Cirrus or a DV-20… yet all are single engine land. A Cessna 150 or Cub on Floats, doesn’t fly like a Lake Buccaneer, but both of these are single engine sea. An Aztec and a Cessna 402 and a BE-76 all multi engine land, one doesn’t fly like the other.
Even small aircraft differ so much they should require sign offs. Cirrus requires it if you want to buy one from them.
Yes, each aircraft should be a sign off. The EU got it right.
This would just duplicate what the insurance companies do now. Try getting insurance for flying a Cirrus with only C150 time. I doubt you would get coverage without some dual received. I believe a Recreational certificate already requires this.
Depends on the insurance you’re talking about. When renting a plane, they check you out on the aircraft. But that doesn’t mean you’re covered. You still need your own hull insurance. Many recreational renters don’t even know they’re not covered if they bend the plane. With that kind of a gap, I doubt Richard’s proposal “just does what insurance companies do now”.
Cirrus requires the training and has a pretty good program. I’ve been through their transition training. It is a good program, but also a little over kill. It is basically the entire private and instrument program taught over again.
Try renting any airplane without getting some kind of dual checkout first. I’ll be surprised if there are any FBO’s that would do that.
Richard might be onto something here. I don’t know if his exact prescription should be followed, but he is absolutely correct that we should be discussing what the correct and appropriate syllabus for new and recurring pilot training should be. All professional disciplines do that to keep pace with a changing market.
I do agree with You, Mr. Tim F.
It isn’t just the market… the aircraft are changing such that it is no longer just a high wing or low wing plane.
Energy management of various aircraft is super important and lack of energy management is killing people regularly. Every stall is a failure to manage energy.
Like I said… I can not think of a commercial maneuver that shouldn’t be taught to every pilot.
The sport pilot idea was a step in the wrong direction. If you can’t find your way with GPS, you shouldn’t be flying.
Now if the aircraft isn’t equipped for navigation, that is an aircraft limitation, it shouldn’t be a pilot limitation.
The Commercial and ATP should be completely done away with. If an employer wants a level of training or time for hiring… that is up to them and should be completely up to them.
When an non pilot hops into a plane, they have no idea what the difference is between private, commercial, and ATP is… all they want is a safe flight… don’t crash.
It is this misconception of flight training that has small plane manufacturers sued into not wanting to make planes… the pilots are not trained to fly them and crash. Rarely is there a problem caused by the manufacturing of a plane. But, pilots are crashing them daily.
I’d like to connect via LinkedIn. Kathryn Creedy
I find it strange hearing folks say “1,500 hours flying a Cessna doesn’t teach you much of anything, so we should drop the rule and let people with a few hundred hours fly transport aircraft.”
I have CFI’d for thousands of hours and even if you discard the flight my time in a C152 which some are convinced is worthless, there is still thousands of hours of study, ADM, CRM, weather interpretation, shooting approaches, energy mgmt., flight planning, aircraft performance planning, radio work, working ATC system, hard IFR, meeting perf. standards, blah blah. You learn by teaching and get better – it takes more than a few months. Do you really thing a CFI is like a driving instructor- you just sit there checking for red lights? Believe it or not, you learn a thing or two instructing for a few years. Do you want your EMB pilot flying you who soloed earlier this year?
Yes, 1,500 hrs is arbitrary but it is the ATP standard for 60 years. Is 1,500 hrs in a Corolla useless if you drive a semi? I’d say both yes and no.
The goal of 1500 was to raise pay. It worked! The Colgan pilots killed themselves because they were sick and exhausted and starving (FO says on CVR she earned $15k the previous year). All of the regionals (before the recent inflation bumps) were paying $65k for new FOs this year. I worked as a CRJ FO in the 00’s for $32k after spending $140k on training. Does that sound like a good idea for the person up front to make less than a waiter?
There is no training of weather info that Colgan pilots didn’t receive – they got stick shaker/pusher, winter ops, leadership, CRM, but they were under stress, misconfigured and panicked. [Remember kids, when the stick shakes and pushes, “Push, DON’T PULL!!”]. Based on the Colgan NTSB report, these two were just two so-so pilots who had a really bad day and killed souls:
– “Captain” busted four checkrides in a row!: Instrument , Commercial SE, Commercial ME, ATP; plus four more busts while at Colgan.
– F.O. – Failed CFI checkride, NTSB postulates when startled she followed the Piper Archer stall recovery flow instead of the one for the dash-8. No doubt she was beyond exhausted and starving in her parent basement 2,200 miles from her base.
He had 3,379 hours of total flying time, with 3,051 hours in turbine airplanes, 1,030 hours PIC, and 111 hours on the Q400. She had 2,244 hours of total time, including 774 hours in turbine airplanes and on the Q400.
Did anyone read the Republic exemption – it’s hilarious. They claim they will be as selective as the military and are therefore entitled to the mil minimums. Then in the next breath they say this is actually an inclusion/diversity program open to the rainbow of those multitudes looking from the outside into aviation but deprived of opportunity due to The Man keeping them down and not letting them eat Ramen as a CFI under the current route . They offer no specifics on how they will match the quality of abbreviated mil training other than using an iPad app and platitudes galore. What could possibly go wrong? I am next to a Republic base and near a Navy flying activity, and with all due respect, when I share the air with them, the two groups are not exhibiting the same skill competencies .
ALPA is right, I and the forty or so other ATPs I know personally who don’t want to work for the pay and conditions offered by regional airlines and instead choose to do something else with their lives. If it was a better job with better conditions, some of those 20,000+ “missing” ATPs would reevaluate their choice and reply to the job ad at Republic.
But Republic’s inability to compete in the labor marketplace is no reason to change the rules that have FINALLY doubled starting FO pay to a living wage and made UFO abduction much more likely than dying in an airliner (i.e. exactly ONE passenger death in the almost decade of the 1,500 hour rules, an unbelievably high level of safety).
And the last 3 years of training is 2 years of COVID. How about comparing to the last 3 years of REAL life?
Perhaps what is really needed is an entire revamp of the certification system. Maybe a year long “round table” think tank kinda thing, comprised of experienced folks from all parts of the aviation community would be a good start. I argue that this is needed because the FAA has become a reactive, rather than proactive entity with very little, if any, emphasis on practicality.
I agree, flight training is out of wack. The 1500 hr requirement came from an I’ll informed public (and congress) when a crew not well trained for icing conditions crashed. They freaked out when they learned the girl had around 250 hrs and had just started as a first officer on an ATR.
Training and lack of good weather availability was the real problem… not 1500 hrs of riding around as an ‘instructor’… children teaching children is what we have created.
This isn’t safe or sane.
That is exactly what is needed. Airline training professionals speaking at the World Airline Training Summit and the Royal Aeronautical Society have laid out a pathway that is already accepted in Europe. Instead of hours or even subjective analysis by a flight instructor, they want to move to competency/evidenced-based training (C/EBT). They want to rely on data proving a pilot is not only proficient at a given task but is competent — that the pilot will do the right thing every time not just just in an exam. Indeed, they reported this year data indicated that what they taught in training was not being adhered to on the line. They then wen’t back to revamp training to ensure there is a match between training and execution.
Let’s revisit that cherished 1500 hr safety requirement.
Two young commercial pilots crashed while encountering ice. If I recall correctly they were pulling up while aircraft weight increased with ice buildup and stalled. Terrible loss of life. However, it does not take 1500 hrs to know what those pilots did is not a good move in those conditions, nor is that ATP level knowledge. If you fly in the north for more than 100 hours with no more than a basic pilot’s license that’s pretty common knowledge.
So where did 1500 hrs come from? In an aviation variant of “let no crisis go to waste”, Chuck Schumer started touting that number within hours of the crash and the FAA subsequently changed the 250 hour requirement for ATP to 1500. Mr Schumer is not renowned as an aviation expert. Where did he get that number so quickly?
That’s the sort of thing one does if you’re trying to restrict the supply of something. It is a classic move in some circles, especially among major stakeholders with regulatory agencies going back to the railroads.
Go a step further and ask where the line showing total demand for pilots is on the helpful chart? ALPA ties itself in knots dealing with this in the article.
According to ALPA, there is no pilot shortage that cannot be solved by cutting service to a public that clearly demands more. Presumably demand for flights and pilots would decline by simply cutting schedules, and then dressing up the decision with 1500 hours as a safety issue. If airline executives did cut service, prices would skyrocket and they would almost certainly be accused of price gouging and ineptitude for allowing pilots to retire.
On the other hand, airline executives would be derelict if they did not try to get exceptions in areas where there is no consensus on pilot requirements like 1500 hrs. There are also alternate ways to address experience requirements besides a flat 1500 hr requirement.
Conducted in public, that discussion would be called fair and open debate. Of course, almost as part of a script, the next words you’ll hear from ALPA (and possibly Chuck Schumer and other political supporters) will be about airline executives callously putting lives at risk by demanding too many hours of their pilots and cutting safety margins to make excessive profits.
That would be a safety margin that does little for safety (and nothing for icing events) but does successfully restrict the supply of pilots. How about a tee-totaler safety rule for ATP so pilots who should know better don’t fly drunk (oh wait, there’s already a rule against drinking within 8 hours of a flight that is applicable to student pilots).
This kind of thing happens all the time. You already know the lines. We should be getting tired of getting played by major stakeholders with a lot of money, lawyers and bull horns on all sides. Sadly, you don’t see how badly you’ve been played if you don’t watch the whole performance. Now playing in a regulated activity everywhere.
The congress passed a law saying all pilots must be ATP rated to fly the scheduled airline planes. This was a result of the tragic and unnecessary accident in Buffalo that was clearly a combination of pilot error, pilot inexperience and not maintaining a professional environment. The 1500 hours came from that. This was actually a good bill for pilots. It created a demand and it made the airlines pay more. The abuse of pilots in the commuters was well known. They couldn’t live on what they were being paid. We need to leave this law in place for the safety of the pubic and the well being of the pilots.
I don’t see your Chuck Schumer story as protectionism – it’s just knee-jerk ignorant do-gooder behaviour (spelled p o l i ….).
What’s needed is better screening of candidates for pilot license.
(Yes, better voter screening of political candidates is needed. 😉
The captain of Colgan 3407 was 47. Not old, but hardly “young” in terms of life experience. He also had over 3000 hrs total. The FO was 24 with over 2000 hrs total. As a former Q400 pilot myself, ice had absolutely nothing to do with that accident as far as the aircraft goes. How the captain reacted to what he may have perceived might have been the bigger cause. He had a history of training failures.
However, the change in duty time rules was a game-changer after that accident. It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback when you’re not the one sitting in the cockpit after 5 legs, short breaks, and a commute to work. The constant schedule shift from AM to PM and vise versa can be physically brutal, and the emotional toll of being away from family is not easy. Many are leaving the airline industry because of these factors, myself included. Until that changes I don’t see a good fix for the pilot shortage. That’s up to airline execs to figure out, but they’re just wanting to throw money at the problem.
It was my understanding she was down in the 250 hr range and that was the trigger for a major public freak out.
Richard G. the FO in the crash had 2,244 total hours per the NTSB report. The captain had 3,379 total hours per the same report. The 1500 hour rule would have made exactly zero difference in this accident.
Why did the families lobby for this 1500 hr. rule to congress?
Yes, lets. ALPA pushed for the 1500 hour rule saying pilots needed experience to be qualified to fly the line. Except that Colgan proved that wrong. The Capt had more than 3000 and the FO more than 2000. So, why did ALPA insist on 1500 hours? Everyone, including a lot of its own members agree it is arbitrary and does nothing to determine the quality of a pilot.
ALPA — and the rest of the industry — conveniently ignored one of the major contributing factors which was commuting. But that is too sacred to mess with. They through the two pilots under the bus when they said pilots are duty bound to show up rested and fit to fly.
John M. as to pay. Airlines should have been paying more but ALPA was complicit in keeping regional pilot pay down because they didn’t advocate for higher CPA rates to pay for those increases which I chronicled in my Forbes Pilot Series. Second, ALPA said it was not a pilot shortage but a pay shortage. Hmmm, let’s see. We’ve doubled, tripled and quadrupled pay and we still have a pilot shortage so that puts the lie to that.
NTSB testified that ever 20,000 hour pilots had accidents and if you want to look at stall accidents think AF447 and other mainline accidents.
ALPA likes to suggest that the absence of accidents is proof 1500 hours is working. Nonsense. That ignores 20 years of data-driven analysis that has PREVENTED accidents promulgated by four accidents in 1994 — two mainline, two regional.
Finally, no other global regulatory authority has adopted the 1500 hour rule because they know it is a political, not safety, construct and their regional aircraft are not falling out of the skies. And, oh, by the way, regional pilots are flying into the US from the north and elsewhere with fewer hours with nary a question as to safety from either ALPA or FAA.
ALPA is not a legislative body. The US congress, elected by the voters of the country, enacted legislation that both pilots needed to have an ATP cert which has for most living people’s lives required 1,500 hours flight experience.
The rule was meant to indirectly increase pay since as you point out, both Colgan pilots met ATP mins.
The FO was commuting from her parents house and on the CVR she said she maid $15k. I worked at a regional not long after and made around $32k. Within the ATP change period of 2013-2016 pay more than doubled.
I don’t think anyone ignored commuting. The fact that the Colgan FO commuted 2,200 miles from her parents’ basement in Seattle and broke policy by sleeping in the busy crew break room in Newark was widely cited as a contributor to her exhaustion and poor decision making when they were startled by the stick shaker and then pusher.
A grand total of ONE passenger has died since the rules came into place. Yes, I studied statistics and this could have dozens of other causes, but this run of good fortune has happened a grand total of NEVER in aviation. It did not begin after 1994. Is it so unreasonable to speculate that increasing the qualifications increased pay to a living wage which might have improved mental acuity, decision making, stress reaction, quality of applicants etc. etc. which at some level increase safety?
Yes, most of the world does not feel a need for two ATPs up front, but keep in mind even most HUGE countries only have 10 or 20,000 ATPs total.
This “rest of the planet” disconnect led to some interesting hanger- conjecture with the two MAX crashes, with each crew having one guy with 99,000 hrs and the other Ab Initio guy having 100 hr in a sim and only a coupled hundred hrs right seat in a real jet flipping a radio as the apprentice. Again, it’s conjecture, but some say that’s why none of the US MAXes are in the dirt. Yep, truth be told you only need one good pilot, until that one time when it’s good you had two.
Yep, 1,500 is arbitrary, it’s just the same ole ATP number. Anyone who tears Sen. Schumer a new one as the media seeking jerk he is is totally right – he is a self-serving political beast (I’m a former NYer)
So I agree with you on 99% of your facts , but in the last couple years, for the first time ever I can actually recommend a career in airlines to students instead of explaining it’s a fool’s errand. If we go back to needing only a Comm/ME, what standards (EASA?) do you want and what should my students expect to get paid for their 2-3 years and $150k of training?
ALPA has made their share of mistakes along with airline management. However, I agree with ALPA and their efforts to eliminate the current mandatory retirement age. The old and outdated mandatory retirement age for line pilots should be thrown out and retirement extended to retain more experienced pilots. Today’s age limit for retirement is ridiculous.
Until you look at Biden… yea, I don’t want him in his aviator glasses near a plane I’m getting on.
The 1500 hour rule is a good one, very few airline pilots I know disagree. Part 121 flying is serious business and requires a strong skill set. Most people just barely have it coming into part 121 initial training at 1500 hours. Even if that time wasn’t spent in anything other than a Cessna 152, it provides acclimation to being an airplane that you can get no other way. Its this acclimation that allows one to learn the other things without the being distracted by mastering the fundamentals. Now, some get complacent in those 1500 hours, and they are usually weeded out in initial training.
Hours as a panacea reminds me of the police officer who came flapping to my residence one day, behaving like a washed out trainee.
Was not familiar with a specific law he should have been.
Claimed he had 22 years of experience, I thought afterward that it would be generous to say he had 6 months of experience repeated 45 times.
Once upon a time, I had numerous pilots argue with me on social media about the 1500 hour rule and the pay shortage. Recently I posted an article analyzing the Republic Petition and asked a few of them why they’d been so silent since I’d expected them to take me to task. They told me ALPA came down on them like a ton of bricks for disagreeing with the party line.
Is this about safety or power? Ask the training experts and they will tell you 1500 hour rule was NEVER about safety and the Flight Safety Foundation found pilots drilling holes in the sky to build hours was actually counterproductive since they lost to the discipline and professionalism the National Transportation Safety Board deems so important and has been working so hard to establish in all aviators. To their credit, regionals, recognizing the cowboy attitudes of new hires, went from 10 sessions to 15 sessions for new hire training in order to reestablish that professionalism and discipline.
It seems the ALPA and FAA are shouting past each other and the media is reporting on the noise. How about some independent source with access to real data compare the number of actively employed Part 121 pilots with ATP ratings and available for flight under current crew rest regulations against the current requirement based on the number of flights scheduled (sold)? I suspect there is plenty of blame for all parties to equally share. The increase of hours for an ATP wasn’t the sole cause, just as the mandatory retirement at 65 wasn’t either the sole cause. The lack of STEM education or interest in our public school system until the past few years – certainly less than 20 – was a big contributing factor that won’t be fixed overnight either.
I don’t know why I didn’t predict this current dilemma; after all, I was born too late to fly the really fun stuff built by North American, Grumman, and Northrup, just in time for the market to be flooded with pilots in the ’70s and ’80s so young instructors worked for $6.00 per Hobbs hour, and too early to take advantage of the current market. But there is still nothing like seeing the earth from the sky that can move a hopeless romantic more.
Contact airline training professionals, Flight Safety Foundation, Royal Aeronautical Society. They have the actual evidence of what works in training. Its called competency/evidenced-based training which replaces the subjective analysis of a flight instructor with data that determines whether a pilot is not only proficient but competent. How do they define that? The skill to do the right thing all the time, not just to pass the test.
Registered nurses and pilots are in the same boat:the Titanic.
“Why, you may ask do I say that”? The nurses are quitting their jobs in droves, after spending thousands and thousands of dollars to get their licenses and registrations. This is all because of greedy companies with CEOs that are making millions and short staffing hospitals and killing patients. The pilots, on the other hand, especially the civilian pilots who spend their own money to get their licenses, for want of a better word, are getting screwed into the ground by the airline human resources- HR, If you want to laugh, and 1500 hrs. of Cessna 150 time. The airlines no longer have the military pilots to fly the planes, or very few. I hear that the C-130 is being Robotized.
I am 82 years old now and I’d like to say that, had I to do it all over again I would’ve taken up a trade such as plumbing where I could be my own boss.
One of the best things I ever did, while boring holes in the sky with a Cessna 150, was to pick the phone up, in the year 1970, and call Duane Cole in Burleson, Texas, and to say, “Mr. Cole, I am a flight instructor and commercial pilot, and I need to learn how to fly upside down”. “I’ll meet you at the airport”, he said to me. After flying with Duane for a week it felt unusual to fly ‘right side up’ again. His training saved my life, many times down the road.
These days I fly the 737 800NG simulator and I have a lot of fun. A few days ago I landed in Goose Bay, Labrador and ‘Bluie West One’, Greenland.
The important thing for young pilots is to have a fall back Plan, in Case their dreams don’t come true And, just don’t get a speeding ticket or you will be a ‘careless and reckless operator’ and you will not be needed on the flight deck.
Vey soon, it will be a moot point, because the Robots are almost here.
“Won’t that be fun”? But, you are a Plumber an Eletician a Carpenter, and you are rich.
“This is all because of greedy companies with CEOs that are making millions and short staffing hospitals and killing patients.” is trashy behaviour by you.
The same problem of worker overload is occurring in the socialized medical system of Canada.
Goose Bay is easy, airport One on the Bluie West route to get arms to Europe is an example of needing smarts, including ‘ensure no icebergs in takeoff climbout path’.
For the many not familiar with ferry routes to the British Isles.
Bluie was code for routes across Greenland from Canada through iceland to Scotland or islands just north of it. (Faroe islands give shortest route from Iceland.)
Bluie West airfields on west side of Greenland, Blue East on east side.
Plus airfields in Canada from which to fly to Bluie West airfields, Frobisher Bay is one.
Those and a Central route to the south plus airfields in more populated areas of Canada and US were grouped as ‘Crimson Route’, Crimson code for Canada. (Routes leading to the ones across Greenland varied to match source of airplane production across the US.)
There was also a route from US into north Africa to support that campaign, and one to the Azores which Portugal let the US use to attack German submarines, via Bermuda, and on to Cornwall England. Various names used for routes.
Airline services were established to many locations in the Atlantic and Pacific to support war efforts, even ahead of the US being formally in WWII. (Before entering the war, the US provided much weaponry to European Allies. Canada was already in the war supporting Britain.)
One route well to the north was planned to somehow avoid the worst of North Atlantic weather, Thule was one location, perhaps named Bluie West 8.
The ambassador of Denmark to the US made an agreement with the US to defend Greenland, the Nationalsozialistiche occupiers of Denmark were not happy about that. (Greenland being Danish territory, slowly shifting to independence.)
But the route was not used much once the central Atlantic route was feasible.
Georgia Tech is working on making the C130 autonomous. The reason we don’t have many B17s left… they were used as drones.
Yes, eventually people might get use to riding in a remote controlled plane… not me.
The first time I got in a helicopter with an auto hover, I was still terrified to let go of the controls in a hover. It was something I had drilled into me during training… never let go of the controls near the ground.
The 1500 hour minimum is ridiculous. How do most airline pilot wannabees get those 1500 hours? By basic instruction in a piston single in the same local area. This in no way prepares you for a front seat on a complex turbine aircraft. Flight schools keep close tabs on their instructor hours because they know that when they hit that magic number they’ll be gone. And where did they get the 1500 magic number from anyway?
If indeed “most airline pilot wannabees” are getting their hours only from instructing, then perhaps most of those candidates shouldn’t get past the initial airline screening. Most charter operations I’m familiar with will hire SICs with only around 300 hours total time. So there’s the “training under a senior captain in a complex turbine aircraft” that has been mentioned. Building time as a CFI isn’t the only way to build time.
I agree… we now have children teaching children… horrible and crazy idea. Airlines now charge for training the pilots that show up… wash out and you are left with a bill, don’t complete your time with that airline… yea, you will be paying for that training.
The reality, airlines still have to train the pilots that want to fly with them, be it a CRJ, or a 737.
I’ll say it again. The 250 hours rule worked just fine for 50 or so years that I was familiar with it. Because at hour 251, you now were under the tutelage of a senior experienced Captain, and the rest of your flying was learning how to fly an airliner of some sort the airline way. Sitting in a C150 and not actually even flying, just keeping the other person from crashing, hours but no experience. In the early ’60s, UAL ran ads hiring you with just a PPL if you would get the minimum Comm and Instrument. Two of my good friends both went with major carriers with just a barely dry comm, instrument, and Apache multi. Both retired as senior B747 Captains. They did say that their initial training after hiring was several years of intense getting their ass kicked.
In the time I started flying (1987) you needed thousands of hours just to get an interview. You were expected to pay for the training. And the wages then were a joke. As a captain now I don’t want some 250hr wonder in the right seat that I would have to train private and student pilot items that were never learned to begin with. I need someone who knows the basics and that I only have to train to learn whatever transport category airplane I am flying.
It would be incumbent upon your company that they were hiring qualified applicants that were accomplished beyond still needing student and private level basics. The USAF sends their trainees out solo in jets with under 200 hrs.
The armed services do that because they also have a much more intensive training process prior to that point that washes out all but the most capable and determined applicants. Plus, they have a certain guaranteed minimum that that pilot will fly for them.
I was never in the military but according to pilots I have flown with who did the military training is much more intense and demanding than any civilian training. I have watched KC135, C5, and C17’s do takeoff and landing practice at various bases and those pilots really know how to fly tight traffic patterns and landings. I have flown with several FO’s that couldn’t figure out how to fly a visual traffic pattern at all. Fortunately my current company does a pretty good job screening candidates but sometimes one sneaks through that is definitely lacking private pilot knowledge. Unfortunately previous companies I have worked for not so good. One of the reasons they are previous.
I remember flying with guys in Oklahoma that finished up their 250 hrs (50 was multi at night) they went back to Europe to train in 737s.
ALPA wants higher wages because they are taking a percentage of each dollar earned as dues. They are also comparing apples to orangs on the number of ATPs available to go to the airlines because a large number of those new ATPs are actually new hires at regional carriers as they get hired and then get typed and ATPed at the same time at the end of their simulator training.
Additionally, the Cessna 152 1,500 hours are effectively useless. Getting paid $25 (or so) an hour for some moron to try and kill you in the pattern is not good time. The type of flying really needed is cross country, night real IFR and talking to ATC through transitions including frequency changes during cross country flights.
Purdue University is having a world class symposium; November 7 thru 11, concerning ways to mitigate and change the pathway for attracting future pilots, mechanics, dispatchers and ATC specialists to gain the education, training and flight experience that the industry really needs and wants. Stake holders from all the major and regional carriers, manufacturers and others have already indicated their plans to attend.
The question is if we change the training requirements to include cross country, night real IFR and talking to ATC who is going to pay for it. There aren’t enough charter flight jobs to train airline pilots and the AirForce and Navy isn’t training nearly as many pilots as they did in the 60s and 70s. And having the pilots fund it isn’t an option. Who is going to pay as much as it costs to train a doctor for a job that won’t pay anywhere near as much. If there was a better way to get pilots trained that didn’t require them to either pay exorbitant costs or live barely scraping by for years while they built time this wouldn’t be an issue. but it all boils down to who is going to pay for it and so far the answer by all stakeholders has been someone else.
That is why I still say there is no pilot shortage. When the airlines start paying for pilot training at the student pilot level and not require a training agreement to be signed then I will believe there is a genuine pilot shortage.
The airlines won’t do that without an agreement locking in the trainee to the airline or requiring them to pay back training. It just makes no financial sense.
What I think the airlines are trying to get is a federal government bailout. Either get the Government to pay for training or just give the airlines subsidies
Sure they won’t, as long as there are pilot candidates who are willing to sign such agreements or worse willing to pay for the training themselves. Only in the aviation industry do you have candidates paying for training. In every other industry the company trains their employees without charging employees for those jobs.
Great employers do not have much turnover.
The rest whine and try to pick taxpayer pockets.
Engineers, accountants, doctors, nurses, … pay for their own education in their field.
Right now, ‘pilots’… leave instructor jobs to go get trained by the airlines that want them. So… instructors need to be instructed on how to fly.
Yea, it is nuts.
I’m an official “ole fart”. GA, corporate, military, airline, airshow, now back to corporate, and am fortunate to be able to fly with young up and coming pilots who want time and experience in turbine planes, and it helps me by being able to have “qualified” co-pilots. Each and every one has all the paper qualifications and at a minimum, 5-600 hours logged.
What I have found in all but one of my mentee’s is even though they are “qualified” they are abysmally unqualified in operating in the real world environment. Radio skills, embarrassing. Situational awareness, same. Attention to details, so so. Procedure, what I would expect, a lot of knowledge of regs, but a lot of their instructors techniques and and as I would expect, not much air sense. The “one” is just a natural aviator advanced well beyond his years.
All of them rely all the time on their ipads. Windows seem to be ignored. Passenger comfort not even on their radar.
Now before you all flame me, I know air sense comes with experience. What I am seeing is a bunch of pilots that can toe the line on a syllabus checkride. All the squares have been checked. But what I always ask myself is, would I put my wife on his or her’s plane in bad weather?
Seems to me, when uncle Sam is his infinite wisdom, threw out the arbitrary 1500 hour and ATP rule, the training industry also shifted gears to a “lets pump en out” mentality.
The stage I’m getting involved with these “young pilots”, not necessarily young people, I know, is really their formative cockpit years and I’m delighted to be able to expose them to the real world of aviation. They are all eager to learn and seem to genuinely appreciate the experience.
Like most of the above comments, I hate arbitrary numbers that demonstrably have zero factual evidence of being correct, but I do see that, in my opinion, out current training regime is pumping out a bunch of folks that are paper qualified but in fact NEED a lot of mentored, supervised or whatever you want to call it, experience to safely be turned loose out there.
As to all the corporate greed comments, that’s the companies fiduciary responsibility and it’s the FAA’s job to make them safe.
Both diametrically opposed.
It’s always been that way.
If you get the chance, go out of your way to encourage and help these young pilots. It’s fun, satisfying, and a great way to pay it forward.
As to the pilot shortage, it’s very real where I live. We struggle to find copilots and qualified Captains.
Let’s don’t even talk about parts shortages!
Fly safe and keep the blue side up, mostly!
Qualified is the key word here. There is no such thing as a pilot shortage in this country, only a shortage of “qualified” and experienced pilots who are willing to put up with all the nonsense and some cases lousy pay that goes along with this job. ALPA has it right this time and it is the airline management that has created the situation they find themselves in. Airline mismanagement is especially maddening since the industry was given billions of our tax dollars since covid started to avoid all of this to begin with.
Does 1500 hrs make a pilot ‘safe’… oddly, the more time pilots have, the more likely they are to crash.
(Is there an ‘insincere apology’? I’d call that a lie.)
Brian W and Jerry M have both raised the quixotic question, how to build quality time and afford it.
My White Paper “Operation Slingshot” addresses the issue of time building from the Commercial; MEL, and Inst up to the rATP or ATP. In it, I have devised a methodology to reach the required time affordably for the wanna be pilots. The candidates would actually receive a salary with benefits. Most of the time gained will be in cross country flying with a certain amount of night and instrument flying to get the candidates to the level of ATP or rATP they are qualified for and it will include the required 30 hours of air carrier classroom education and 10 hours of level C/D simulator training would be included.
This white paper is one of 5 different presentation portions I wrote for the National Aviation Symposium we are holding at Purdue University in November.
Matt W needs to know and admit that ALPAs only directive is to increase their “Benjamins” from pilot members dues. The way they screwed the TWA pilots in the 2001 acquisition and integration by American Airlines and the APA should preclude ALPA to never be allowed to represent pilots again, EVER.
If the editors of this site will contact me and agree to my terms of publication, I’ll let them post the “Operation Slingshot” white paper here.
Just to clarify, I do not work for a unionized company, and never have in the past. As far as the ALPA’s comments to increase dues paid due to increases in wages, that may be true, I have no knowledge on the pilot union’s thinking. Now as far as my comments on the alleged “pilot shortage”, I have been saying there is no pilot shortage in this country for many years, way before Congress mandated ATP certification for FO’s in pt121 flying. I just find there is a little vindication to my much earlier comments now that someone else feels the same way.
Unions are inherently protectionist.
Shameful history such as convincing government that individuals who test flew hastily build aircraft then ferried them across the stormy north Atlantic in times before good weather observations did not have the temperament to fly passengers in an easier, supported, and controlled domestic environment.
I started flying in the Air Force in 1971, and even back then the ATP hour requirement was 1500. And that number had been in place long before then, going back at least to the 1950’s as far as I know. There never was a 250 hour ATP requirement, at least under the FAA and its’ predecessor the CAA. Nothing has changed in that regard.
What did change was the basic requirement to fly for hire at the airline level; at one time, prior to the BUF event, it was Commercial license and instrument rating (plus the type training that was usually provided by whatever entity hired such an individual). This would typically mean a total time of around 250-300 hours. And although over the years it was quite rare for anyone to actually be hired at a commercial airline with that little experience, by the time frame of the accident at BUF, the regional airlines WERE hiring pilots with that little experience, for the simple reason that no one with any higher level of experience would work for the sub-minimum-wage levels of pay they were offering.
After BUF there was an effort, originating with the families of the victims, to up the entry requirement for experience for airline pilot new hires. What changed was that under this pressure, Congress (not the FAA – they were not in favor of it, for reasons we now see coming to roost) passed a law mandating an ATP certificate for every pilot in a part 121 operation (scheduled commercial airline). By this time, all of the regional airlines were operating under part 121 rather than part 135. This is one of the factors that created the current pilot shortage, and it is a real shortage – at least at the regional airline level.
Another factor came about as a result of deregulation. In the 1980’s, as the effects of the Deregulation Act began to take hold in the industry, many major airlines began to hire large numbers of pilots over what turned out to be a historically short period of time. My own airline, AA, hired around 5000 pilots over just over 5 years. These pilots were available for hire due to the liquidation of some of the legacy airlines in the early days of deregulation, and also a still-prevalent supply of Viet Nam era military pilots. But the other effect of deregulation, at least early on, was unrelenting downward pressure on all airline salaries, particularly pilots; and this, along with other emerging lucrative career paths in finance and technology, served to make the piloting profession less attractive to the best and brightest who previously had shown at least some interest in it. That effect probably culminated in Sully’s famous appearance before Congress in the aftermath of the Hudson River landing, during which he assured the solons that he would not recommend an airline career to his own children!
All of this had the effect of making the pilot profession less attractive as a career, and the airline downturn after 9/11 made the situation even worse, with thousands of pilots laid off, and no career paths in sight. Many flight schools closed in this era, and even colleges dropped their aviation programs (Daniel Webster, for one). This impacted the potential supply of trained pilots down the road.
We are now in the whirlwind that was sown as a breeze back in the day. Interestingly enough, this was all 100% forseeable – in 1984 when I was Chief FE at LGA for AA, I could see the bulge in the belly of the snake forming, and on more than one occasion I remarked to my boss the Chief Pilot that somewhere down the road, 35 or so years later, there would be an enormous surge of retirements over a very short time. Congress kicked the can down the road 5 years by raising the retirement age but such actions only delay the inevitable.
Because of the shortage, pilot pay is now at or even above levels it would have achieved had not deregulation intervened, and the profession is once again attracting many aspirants. But at a price, because the old pathway that most of us took back in the day – the military, featuring the best flight education in the world and getting paid to get it – is no longer as viable, except on the margins like the Guard or Reserve. Some foreign airlines have trained their own pilots for years – such as Lufthansa out in Arizona – and some US airlines are making tentative moves in that direction. Sadly, all of this is also coming to pass at a time when technology, in the form of AI and automation, will soon provide at least a potential relief for airlines by reducing the number of pilots needed on the flight deck; eventually, perhaps, to zero. The pressure to move in that direction will be great, and we may not be able to resist it. Fortunately, that will come to pass after my own expiration date! I don’t really want to be around for that one.
You hit ALL the issues on the head, Anthony. I was surprised to read that many commenters thought that you could obtain an ATP at 250 hours. I learned to fly in 1971 and — as YOU said — the 1500 hours for an ATP was in place long before that. The BUF crash then Congressional over reaction — so as to do ‘something’ — caused the problem. The bulge in hiring back then exacerbated by early retirements due to Covid plus the Colgan rule all came together to cause today’s morass with pilot accession, retention and retirements.
There is NO system of systems — a 5, 10, 20 year plan in place to fix any of this. It’s all shooting darts at a wall to see what sticks and works and what doesn’t. UNTIL long range plans are put into place, it’ll only get worse.
I thank MY lucky stars that I didn’t get into the Airlines when I retired from the USAF.
I’m not sure if it is intentional, with the airlines’ ultimate goal to get congress to first mandate the FAA to allow for single-pilot 121 ops augmented by AI, and then go to fully-autonomous flights. “See, we just can’t get enough qualified pilots, so we need to go to single-pilot ops to meet the demand” (nevermind that the pilot shortage is our own doing).
I could see this in about 30 years. This will not happen fast. I suggested the use of GPS I gals for air-traffic control over radar more than 30 years ago, first to the DOD then to the FAA, both said no at the time… now we have ADS-B being mandated…
So, I don’t see this in my life time. It is coming and it will be a good thing. But, I would still want someone on the plane to fly it when the electronics breaks.
Automation will take time. The drone type Bell aircraft I’ve seen will still require an operator to monitor all the systems and intervene when there is a problem. It looks safe enough, but I kept hitting my head getting in and out of the thing. You could tell it was made for smaller people, not Americans.
Various attempts over decades to organize flight schools supported by airlines.
One attempt was by a flight school in Abbotsford BC.
Did any of them come to much?
These are good points, but not complete. When I started flying (1963), the ATP requirement was 1,200 hours and 21 years of age. It increased to 1,500 and 23 years old in the late 60’s. The breaks in the time requirements for a restricted rATP are 750 hours if you went through a military regime, 1,000 if through a 4 year academic program, 1,250 for a two year and 1,500 for a full ATP at a mom and pop FBO. Added to the requirement is the need for a 30 hour class of air carrier academic training and 10 hours plus o simulator time in a class C or D simulator.
The future of autonomous air carrier operations won’t be anytime soon. The manufacturers and the FAA/ICAO are not on this wave length yet. The airplanes that have been made in the past and currently being produces require 2 (or more) flight deck personnel. In the future manufacturing regime, airplanes that will be made and that are currently on the “drawing board” require two pilots. This will carry the requirement for real people pilots well into the future; 50 ish years or more.
You are quite right and I’m actually surprised any aviation publication would fall for ALPA’s misleading stats. ALPA puts out these numbers specifically to mislead legislators. Even its own members don’t agree with its stance and understand the tighter the pilot supply the higher the incentive to move to autonomous aircraft — that’s what one ALPA member who used to argue with me told me recently.
I’ve asked ALPA any number of times how many have an ATP? How many an RATP? They don’t respond to me. There are many steps between a commercial and an ATP. In addition, their numbers have never been accurate since many who have ATPs no longer fly the line — airlines execs such as Brian Bedford for instance. How many are actually available to fly for an airline?
I believe Dan Aiken at Flight Path Economics or maybe it was Kit Darby, tore ALPA apart on its statistics completely destroying its credibility. Another really good source is Bill Swelbar who has been following regionals and pilot shortages for years. He used to be with MIT and later Delta and now he has his own consultancy.
The reason I give you these resources is so people — including press outlets — have a lot of sources to to check ALPA’s misleading statements.
I only listen to training and safety experts. I haven’t listened to ALPA for years, or RAA for that matter. ALPA misleads and RAA is completely ineffective. That’s what set me on my quest to find real experts and I did — airline training professionals who speak at World Airline Training Summit and Royal Aeronautical Society and Flight Safety Foundation which found building hours the way ALPA suggests is actually counterproductive to safety.
I’ll get off my soapbox now. Best wishes. Cheers — Kathryn Creedy
The flight school in my area (30 small planes) is going strong. 1250 hrs is the magic number for a restricted ATP. The regional airlines here in the NW are some of the main employers that are picking up the best candidates. I have no doubt about the skills and decision making of these young pilots and that they are capable of learning all the nuances of airline protocols. There is demand for regional pilots for sure here and the issue about the “pilot shortage” seems to be factual at least in the context of previous flight experience requirements no longer required of slogging through the ice in a P.O.S. ( and you will like it) fleet Cessna 402 or 206 shooting approaches down to minimums using a KX170B. Its just to bad the up and coming 20 something pilots don’t realize how good they have it at the moment.
And in The Incompetent State of Canader:
Even a normal 30 days to get a medical certificate is bureaucratic IMO.