In September, Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) joined 102 other institutions of higher learning on the FAA’s list of those eligible to grant “restricted-privileges Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificates with reduced aeronautical experience.” Under the program, students who earn a bachelor’s degree with an aviation major are eligible for the restricted certificate with 1,000 hours logged, 500 hours less than the requirement for an unrestricted ATP. The restricted status means the certificate holder is eligible to serve as a first officer while logging the additional 500 hours toward the full ATP and eligibility for captain status.
Students who earn an associate’s degree with an aviation major are eligible for the restricted ATP with 1,250 hours.
Chad Kendall, an associate professor in MSU Denver’s Department of Aviation and Aerospace Science, said, “Having a 500-hour reduction allows students to get that date of hire sooner—get into the pipeline. In the airline world, the date of hire and your seniority mean everything in the sense of your pay and your upgrade time to be a captain.”
Addressing the issue of a pilot shortage and how it is affecting airlines, Kendall said, “Flights are canceling because of staffing issues. United Airlines announced a reduction in their regional airline flights because regional airlines are having trouble staffing pilots.”
“[Even before COVID] we had a very severe shortage,” added Jeff Forrest, a professor and chairman of MSU Denver’s aviation and aerospace science department. “The pandemic hit and now we’ve got an even worse shortage.”
After filing its FAA Form 8700-1, it took MSU Denver some 20 months working with the FAA to get authorization to participate in the restricted-ATP certificate program. “The FAA, as part of the application process, had to vet our curriculum, had to look at our individual classes, our flight training providers,” Kendall said. “[The approval came] right before the semester began. As soon as we rolled out our certification and our classes, we had 115 students enrolled,” he said.