‘Restricted-Privileges’ ATP Gives Aviation Degree Holders A Leg-Up

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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.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. I tell people looking for a “good” Flight Instructor that “You want someone dumb enough to make all the mistakes that you’re going to make, but smart enough to remember what they were so he can warn you.”

    That is, you want someone experienced.

    Although we can learn some by reading about other’s mistakes, there’s no substitute for experience.

    I don’t know if the different between 1000 hours or 1500 hours for the ATP is critical or not. (I suppose a lot depends on whether those 1000 hours were mostly giving dual or doing stupid things while solo.) It’s hard to get a lot of time in actual IMC. So I tend to favor 1500 hours.

    But I am always concerned when we change existing standards for expediency. Like, there aren’t enough cardiac surgeons. So we lowered the standards, and now your doctor can operate on you with only a year of residency.

    Not quite apples to apples, since the Restricted ATP will be First Officer only, operating with supervision.

    Still …

  2. Considering the SAFO that the FAA put out on visual approaches I find it hard to understand the college degree shortcut on flight hours. I know there have been plenty of criticism of the ATP (1500 hr) requirement. Those who are critical say flying traffic patterns with students to build time is a waste. If so then why are civilian jet pilots having such a difficult time with a student pilot maneuver flying visual traffic patterns? And why is the FAA solution a worthless SAFO for something that should have been learned pre-solo? Anyone who thinks I am full of it should ask the simulator training provider my company uses. My last check ride when doing a visual no flap landing my instructor/check airman was amazed that I was able to fly that visual approach without any vertical guidance from the FMS or the inop papi. The current airline staffing “shortage” is the airlines own making. Pilot shortage my . . .

      • I am not talking about circle to land approaches. I was referring to basic VFR weather garden variety visual approach, something that is supposed to be learned pre-solo in this country. I had a discussion with several sim instructors before my check ride who have noticed a lack of skill in performing what is supposed to be a basic student pilot skill by clients in training on the jets they train in.

        • Now that you mention it, the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 accident in 2013 was basically an airliner flown into the dock at SFO because the ILS was inop (SFO has this weird idea that ILS navigation is optional, and has long periods of “maintenance”) and foreign airlines do nothing but ILS approaches.

          I don’t think airliners often fly a pattern, so I can see some hesitancy on that, but GA jet pilots really should know how to do that since a lot of their airports are not Class B or C.

          I hope the sim instructors can figure out what the problem is.

          I do know that insurance companies are making clear distinctions between policies for airline jet piots and weekend warrior jet pilots.

  3. The college degree — if anything — suggests the ability to live and affinity for a structured life. All those adjectives — collaborate, participate, communicate, teamwork, and leadership — are best “seeded” on campus. You’ll never make it through ground school if you lack those skills, regardless of how well you can regurgitate systems and regs. Today’s air carriers are looking for those core attributes as much as – or even more than – flying skills, which can be “fine tuned” in those FSTDs. Carriers are looking for crew members that can keep their operating certificate “… off the FAA radar.” If you’re a “yee-haww” pilot … “fugettaboutitt.”

    … from my “perch.”

  4. I’m struggling to understand what portion of this article is news. The headline is misleading. The news is the addition of one more college offering the 1000 hr ATP option, right? Not sure this warranted this level of coverage, but OK, great, glad the number of institutions offering this kind of flight training increased by 0.98%.

    • Jon: My thinking was – not everyone is aware of the FAR on this issue, and this “news” was an opportunity to highlight its merits/liabilities. For those already familiar, I can understand the head-scratching.

  5. It is good the FAA is figuring out a 1500 hr Cessna pilot doesn’t make a good ATP (Airline Transport Pilot). Flying a transport category plane as first officer should be available at 250 hrs… and wait… it is.
    I remember when the great panic came after an ATR crashed after flying into icing conditions and the pilots acted incorrectly to the emergency. The public was surprised the girl had ‘only’ 250 hrs of flight time. The general public at the time had zero idea what was required to get certificates what training is required, etc… She had just started and was pared with the wrong pilot for gaining experience. An airlines ‘instructor pilots’ should be closely selected to mentor the new pilots. A young pilot that wants to fly passengers around isn’t going to be a better 737 pilot with 1500 hrs or 250 hrs in a Cessna. Their should be a ‘captain’ training time requirement and a first officer training time requirement.
    How many hours do you think a F18 or F16 pilot has? Or for helicopters a Black Hawk?
    And… how old do you think most of them are?… oddly they have a hard time moving over to airline transport aircraft.
    My advise to young pilots would be to go fly overseas. (If the countries will let you) Yes, you can fly a 737 in many countries with 250 hrs.
    Pilots should be selected again based on skill not social pressures.

    • If you refer to the Colgan air crash in February 2009 – the First Officer had 2,220 total hours of flight experience and 772 hours flying the Q400 aircraft, qualifying her fully in accordance with all applicable Federal Aviation Regulations.

  6. Can anyone imagine a low time pilot in a 737 or A320 dealing with an engine out on climb out due to a bird strike? (aka Sully?) It takes total co-ordination between both the Capt. and FO to properly work the issue. Someone should check in with Sully and his take on all of this. I have my opinion, but it has alrady been covered in the comments above.

  7. More dumbing down of pilot qualifications on the way to complete automation. The 737MAX is a perfect example. I am still confused how a pilot can get an ATP in a 172? The thought of hundreds of passengers in an airliner with a 250 HR. F/O does not leave me with a good feeling and the hundreds of people who have died in these accidents makes me ill.

  8. Good points, guys. But let’s face it, we should be grateful for a slow news day in aviation. It is a big day for MSU-D, so they issued a press release. While not quite the yawn-inspiring news that a new Starbucks opened in Denver, AvWeb saw fit to publish it. Everyone’s had done their part, including We-the-Commentariat.

  9. The R-ATP has been around for eight years already. Even before that, some universities and colleges had relationships with the regionals (and still do) … they train students in Advanced airlines systems and ground school classes, taught by airline pilots, and they log crew time in AATDs and FTDs that simulate various regional aircraft such as the Q400, CRJ and ERJ jets and others.
    That kind of training is very different than someone who flies around the pattern in a Cessna for 1500 hours.

  10. Wait… yea a degree makes a better pilot… that is the answer.
    When my plumber comes to my door, I first ask for his degree in plumbing management.
    Not, how long he has been working on residential plumbing.

    And when the AC guy shows up at my commercial building, his 1500 hrs of working on home window units really gives me a warm fuzzy feeling when he asks what a chiller unit is…
    I’ll take the guy with a basic 250 hrs. Of training on my commercial units every time.

    There is a serious problem here with the thought process on how to get good properly trained pilots to haul people around.

  11. Flying aircraft is a vocation. You don’t need a degree to be a better pilot. These large universities teach new pilots in a few basic trainers, the students generally are highly restricted in where they can go and never get to go out and just fly somewhere for fun. I could name maybe 5 of the few hundred pilots from those schools I flew with at the Airline level who where good.
    I don’t think for one second that a university student should have an advantage over a pilot who’s gone out to get more and/or better experience. I’d take a 500 hour pilot with aerobatic, tailwheel, and glider time over a 1500 hour pilot whom has never had to make money with an airplane or has a whopping 4 types in their logbook. My favorite thing I used to say in the Airbus was “you know the brake peddles have a rudder attached right?”

    • I talked to a graduate of FIT who became a CFI.

      She said the churn in college CFIs there made it almost impossible to finish any kind of syllabus – it was literally a conga line of new instructors that dragged on and on, at her expense in terms of time and money.

      Yet from what I’ve read, to qualify for these restricted-privileges certificates you have to do a lot (or all) of both the classrom and practical flying training on-campus.

      Something to investigate if you’re planning to mortgage the house for your kid to become a pilot.