Pilot Certification Still In Play In D.C.

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An effort to change the current certification rules for airline pilots through legislation has stalled, but an “administrative fix” could still come to pass, according to a report this week in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill news site. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said he will drop a provision about pilot training from the FAA authorization bill, which is expected to be addressed this summer. Thune had tried to create more flexibility in how pilots log hours, effectively reducing the 1,500-hour minimum now in effect for airline flight crews. He told Roll Call the discussion about the legislation raised the issue’s profile, and that might drive a change, but he couldn’t offer any specifics yet on what that change might look like.

The 1,500-hour rule, put in place after the Colgan Air crash, has been cited as a cause of the current pilot shortage that is affecting regional airlines and other operators. An FAA advisory panel has recommended that the rule should be revised, saying it “imposes costs that exceed the benefits.” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said last year he would fight any move to relax the rules via legislation. Opponents to change have cited the new rule as a factor in the airlines’ safety record, which has been fatality-free since 2009. Advocates for change say the quality of training and other factors are more important than hours logged. The captain in the Colgan crash had logged 3379 hours (111 as a Q400 captain) and the first officer had 2244 hours.

Comments (8)

#1, it is not a 1500hr rule, it is an ATP rule. And if it is a major cause of the alleged pilot "shortage" in this country, how come I have been reading online articles about the Canadian aviation industry complaining about their pilot "shortages" . They don't have an ATP requirement for their airline sic's and yet they are having just as many issues finding crews if not more so than US regionals are. Blaming the ATP requirement in the US for the alleged pilot " shortage" is just an excuse by the US regional airline execs.

Now the actual training requirements to get the ATP is another issue.

Posted by: matthew wagner | March 14, 2018 2:32 PM    Report this comment

The issue As Mr. Wagner points out, is NOT the 1500 - hour rule. That had been in effect long before the revision to the rule. The issue as I see it (and I could be wrong) is that to get the ATP Multiengine rating, one must complete the approved training course before any further progress is attempted. To be sure, the single-engine ATP hasn't been affected much.

The cost of the multi ATP course is not cheap at all.... costing upwards if $4500

Just my $.02

Posted by: ED PATAKY | March 14, 2018 5:34 PM    Report this comment

Ed - I think you're missing a zero there.

Posted by: Ken Keen | March 14, 2018 7:09 PM    Report this comment

Isn't it amazing that the 1500 hour rule has nothing to do with the cause of the Colgan crash?

Posted by: FILL CEE | March 14, 2018 7:24 PM    Report this comment

As stated, the '1500' rule, an ATP license also, has no bearing on the Colgan crash. The training received and screening of pilot candidates has more impact. Also, generally the operation in a 'commuter' invironment can sometimes be more complex than on a B737 or even wide body operations... Commuter operations are greatly underestimated, and undervalued/paid.
Look at some European carriers that bring pilots from training schools (with all ATP theoretical exams passed) straight onto the flight deck...it's all about training and attitude.
In my 37 years in professional aviation this is what I see as a requirement...thourough basic training, attitude and discipline, a well organized flight dept that offers continual training and supervision, and a fair remuneration.

Posted by: Mauro Hernandez | March 15, 2018 3:39 AM    Report this comment

"Isn't it amazing that the 1500 hour rule has nothing to do with the cause of the Colgan crash?"

No, it's not amazing at all.
It's normal Federal Government dismissing reason in favor of politics.
Like wanting to ban rifles to reduce gun deaths (of which 95% are suicide and handguns).
They don't address the problem, they address the perception.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | March 15, 2018 6:50 AM    Report this comment

People go to jobs to work and, drum roll please, earn money. If there is a pilot shortage it is directly caused by the Airlines underpaying pilots. Why would a person spend tens of thousands of dollars on training and flight time when the pay for the first several years is about what a school Janitor makes.

Pilot shortages are caused by Airlines pay scales, not training requirements.

Posted by: bruce postlethwait | March 15, 2018 6:51 AM    Report this comment

This is economics 101. The regionals have been getting away with compensating their employees as if they were part time high school students. And in some cases in the past these employees had to pay thousands of dollars for training. The pool of people willing to accept this type of employment is drying up. This has really nothing to do with flight time or ATP certificates. It has to do with potential pilots looking at the economic return of an industry that is cutthroat. Make the industry a more financially rewarding career, and you will have the pilots the industry needs.

Posted by: christopher Wall | March 15, 2018 8:29 AM    Report this comment

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