For 2014: ATP, Glider or Something Else?

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Accidents, like elections, have consequences. And as youíve probably read, a consequence of one accident is that the ATP will soon rise to the level of unobtanium, so if you always wanted one, 2014 is the time to act. And better be quick about it.

The accident, of course, is the Colgan Air crash in Buffalo in 2009, where the Captain stalled a Dash-8 Q400 on approach and spun the airplane in, killing 49 on the airplane and one on the ground. The consequences are that First Officers on such operations have to have an ATP and after July of this year, if you want an ATP, youíll need to complete 30 hours of ground school and up to six hours in a level C or D sim.

Yeah, those are the sims whose per-hour cost rivals that of flying an actual turboprop twin, a concept that itself is becoming more rarified. Sometimes I wonder if we should just develop simulators for the passengers, too and save everyone money. On further thought, maybe thatís what teleconferencing is.†

But back to the ATP. Is it worth having one just as wallet candy? Or to pursue the rating in lieu of a flight review? I could follow the usual Boy Scout aviation journalist doctrine and say yes, if you earn the rating, youíll be a better pilot. But Iím pretty sure thatís BS, so Iím going with the notion that itís a $1500 flight review and probably a waste of money, unless you need it for the type of flying you do or just want it for the recurrency. But a year from now, it will very likely be a $10,000 rating so youíre getting a discount price. Maybe your insurance company will be impressed enough to give you a lower premium. In any case, that much money spent on sim time or dual might be a better value.

I got an ATP purely as a coincidence 20-some years ago. I was doing the multi-engine instructor ride and the DPE suggested I combine it with the ATP. All Iíd have to do was take the ATP written, which is no big deal if you donít mind grinding through a dozen weight-and-balance calculations for a DC-9. After the ride, I had exactly the same skills as before the ride, unless you consider the ability to pencil whip 400 pounds of bags from one station to another a skill. I needed the rating exactly once, when I flew some scheduled charter work. But otherwise, wallet candy.

The new rule will require six hours in a high-level sim which, if youíre about to apply for an airline job, might prove useful in keeping you from blowing the screening ride in the airlineís sim. Iím just wondering how many people are going to look at the cost of an ATP and measure it against the miserably low starting salary for an airline job they might not even get. Maybe a career in the bail bond industry isnít such a bad deal after all.

The worst part of the new requirement isnít the sim workódespite the cost, itís at least funóbut the 30-hour ground school requirement. Thirty hours? Although this wonít have so much as a speck of influence on safety, the upside is that the course developers may come up with a sleep aid thatís less habit forming than Ambien. Maybe Fred Tilton will sign it off as a sleep apnea cure. Add another 10 hours, and you could get a medical degree, for Peteís sake.

So the next time I flash my totally impressive ATP and someone asks me if they should bother to get one, Iíd say maybe consider a glider rating instead. Thatís my plan for 2014. As you approach your dotage, you wonít need a medical and itís an altogether more peaceful pursuit than load testing your VISA every time you tank up your airplane. Adhering to consistency here, I wonít pretend that a glider rating makes you a better pilot. It just makes you a glider pilot. And the only way to get one is to actually fly a machine above the surface of the earth. I know itís a shocker, but itís still permitted, at least until next July.

Join the conversation. †Read others' comments and add your own.

Comments (32)

I was reminded recently of the old saying, "Politicians are like diapers - they both need to be changed often and for the same reason."

Posted by: John Hogan | January 1, 2014 7:01 AM    Report this comment

I have not looked at the full text of the new rule yet but under the current rules a pilot can take an ATP check ride without an instructor endorsement or training. Back in the day this is how I did my single (rare) and multi-engine ATP. I simply went over to the FAA and took the ride. These "ATP training programs" - typically 5-10 hours of prep- represent an unnecessary cost for pilots that already maintain a high standard and practice precise flying. It's an industry disservice for a "ratings farm" style company to promote the perception that ATP training is necessary for everyone. I understand if someone needs a brush up or an aircraft checkout, but I've advised (successfully) many pilots to take the written and schedule the ride without any additional training. This saved thousands of dollars.

Posted by: Shannon Forrest | January 1, 2014 10:16 AM    Report this comment

Well, it was decades ago, and certainly before I qualified for my ATP ( S/E Land & Sea ), but I remember my Commercial Glider Pilot training as a huge gain in my piloting skills. Had to do two types of tow and ride with an Inspector from the GADO. I'm an old guy. Have only logged glider time sparingly since: I teach flying airplanes full time. Rethink what your perceptions while soaring were. Perhaps you"ll agree you learn quite a bit in the "purity" of glider flight.

Posted by: Jeffrey Salan | January 1, 2014 11:35 AM    Report this comment

I disagree that an ATP is wallet candy if you own a plane and fly a lot of IFR. I took the check ride just after passing the 1500 hour mark and flew about 25 approaches, in addition to a lot of missed approaches and single engine work to get ready. I learned a lot about flying really precisely and I was not a bad instrument pilot to begin with. I feel like the skills I picked up have stuck with me and now I find myself really flying the plane by the numbers all the time. I regularly land exactly where I want and if it is not too bumpy I can hold +\- 40' and 2 degrees. I couldn't do that before preparing for the ride. Plus, my insurance company was very happy and I was able to use my preparation as a substitute for that year's recurrent training.

Posted by: Scott Dickey | January 1, 2014 12:50 PM    Report this comment

The author said "I won't pretend that a glider rating makes you a better pilot. It just makes you a glider pilot."

That's bull. Ask any pilot who holds both an ATP and a glider rating, AND who actually uses his ATP rating; ask the USAF Academy or the Naval academy if their glider training makes their graduates better military pilots; they'll both tell you the skills learned while mastering soaring flight WILL make you a better pilot! Heck, ask the several airline pilots who have used their glider skills to save their, and their PAX lives, when their aircraft suffered major failures.

Want to be a really GOOD pilot? START your training with a glider rating . .

There's a credible school of thought

Posted by: James Kellett | January 2, 2014 5:55 AM    Report this comment

I would like to offer another alternative that's applicable whether you're an ATP or a Private Pilot - upset recovery training. As the former director of the Bombardier Safety Stand Down Bob Agostino stated, "There should be no unusual attitudes for a pilot. Only uncomfortable attitudes."

Posted by: Shannon Forrest | January 2, 2014 8:18 AM    Report this comment

James I agree.
I started my training in a taildragger and thought I was the bee's knees.
Last year I got involved with gliding. My first impression was "Wow, they let 14 year old teenagers solo these things?" For me, flying a glider is much more challenging than flying SEL. Being towed by another airplane is a totally different ball of wax. I don't have that many tows yet, but I find myself wore out by the time we are done for the day.
Hope Paul writes about his experience with it.
We'll see if he changes his tune after his first solos. I'll never forget my first solo tow and release.

Posted by: Andre Abreu | January 2, 2014 8:28 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I love reading your stuff, but this time you disappoint me. Ask Sully if his glider rating was just flying gliders. The miracle on the Hudson might have turned out differently without his glider experience!
I guess that a tail-wheel endorsement doesn't make you a better pilot, just a tail-dragger pilot. Come on!
Learning never stops, and a good pilot will continue to learn and challenge him or her self. Aerobatics is yet another area that can make you a better pilot. Not just an aerobatic pilot!

Posted by: Danny King | January 2, 2014 8:52 AM    Report this comment

Like any training regimen, preparing for an ATP will sharpen you up...temporarily...but when you then go back to "normal" flight operations that edge will gradually evaporate. I'm sure that is what Paul means when he says just having the rating won't make you a better pilot.

Gliders? Fun, but in terms of piloting skills they are pussycats to fly. In the sailplane world the real skill set is ferreting out and utilizing lift, which in powered operations certainly can be helpful but generally not critical.

Posted by: John Wilson | January 2, 2014 9:02 AM    Report this comment

"I needed the rating exactly once, when I flew some scheduled charter work. But otherwise, wallet candy."

It seems to me that many pilots do get the ATP only as wallet candy. Except for the few odd charter jobs that require it. I wonder what the new requirements for the ATP will do to the charter industry, and other similarly low-paying jobs that probably could do with just a commercial rating. Since I have no plans to work for the airlines or do full-time flying, and I'm far from 1500 hours, the ATP rating is now out of reach to me.

Oh well, guess I'll just make it a goal to actually finish that glider rating this year. I started it last year, but time and weather conspired against me finishing it. As far as making me a "better pilot", I'm not sure about that, but it certainly is a different experience, and an enjoyably peaceful one.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | January 2, 2014 9:04 AM    Report this comment

The new rules will not make airline flying any safer. 1500hrs and an ATP are not needed to be a copilot on a regional jet. It is a position for an apprentice. With so many hoops to jump through I wonder if I would have even tried. After 35yrs of airline flying I am thankful that there was a time that a 600 hundred pilot could get a job as a DC-3 copilot. When I had 1500 hrs I went into the GADO office (no appointment) with my logbook and written results and some FAA guy said I qualified to take the ATP practical test. Avionics and airplanes have become easier to operate. All this technology should have made flying simpler not the opposite. Luckily gliders are simple and fun.

Posted by: William Rucker | January 2, 2014 9:21 AM    Report this comment

Regular Bertorelli readers are accustomed to acerbic comments, but sheesh, Paul--today's tone is slightly much! Too much New Year's Eve celebrating?

In any event, I agree that generally speaking, most of us never have needed or will need an ATP. I didn't need one when I instructed or did SE charter years ago. I sure don't need one now, since my flying is 99% for the fun of flying. But that hasn't stopped me from flying "to ATP standards," as one instructor said to me a few years back, when he asked why I didn't have one. The easy answer was, "why?" Other than "wallet candy" (cute term), it would mean very little.

Whether there will be a glut of newbies trying to get their ATPs before the standards change in July is hard to say, but there will probably be some. Will the new standards make a difference in airline safety? Not likely, but it may lead to a pilot shortage, for the reasons you stated, Paul--too expensive an education for too little monetary rewards, a situation that already exists but which will be exasperated by the new requirements.

Whenever there is an airline disaster, lots of people die. Most of the time, it was human failures which directly caused the accidents, sometimes associated with misunderstood equipment failures. But I would postulate that none of the airline disasters over the past 30 or 40 years would have been prevented, had the first officer had an ATP and the pre-certification training that the new standards will require to get one--including the Colgan crash. Those events which came to a more successful conclusion, such as the Hudson River event in 2009, or the Sioux City event in 1989, were as much prevented from being more disastrous by the personalities involved, incredibly experienced pilots on their flight decks who happened to have the skills and abilities and judgment necessary to accomplish what needed to be done at that time. It's not possible to create that combination, simply by requiring more sim time hours or class room hours of up-and-coming pilots.

Knee-jerk responses to airline disasters, whether by Congress, the FAA, or any other regulatory body, usually result in nothing better, just something different, and sometimes something worse--the rule of unintended consequences at work. My guess is that is exactly what the new ATP standards will provide, nothing better, something different, and most likely something worse.

Posted by: Cary Alburn | January 2, 2014 9:23 AM    Report this comment

I have to disagree about the glider rating comment.

In my one and only engine failure, my ability to walk away was greatly enhanced. After going down the emergency checklist and trying 3 restarts, my brain went into glider mode. Speed up to land and bleed off your airspeed a few feet above the ground? What power only pilot would have thought of that? Energy management is way higher on the priority list as a glider pilot. When the engine quit, my nose went down to best glide speed by muscle memory. I think Sully can vouch for that. Since that time, I encourage every potential pilot I introduce to flying to supplement their SEL training with a few hours of glider work.

Posted by: ROBERT J TEZYK | January 2, 2014 10:12 AM    Report this comment

"Ask Sully if his glider rating was just flying gliders. The miracle on the Hudson might have turned out differently without his glider experience!"

I figured someone would bring this up. Sullenberger actually was asked this very question in a documentary called Brace for Impact. His answer? He shrugged and said he didn't know. (

i saw him make a similar comment in another interview that was even a little stronger toward no, suggesting he didn't think a glider rating was needed to pull off the ditching and couldn't say if it mattered. I credit that with turning around my attitude toward just parroting the accepted wisdom that a glider rating makes you a better pilot. There's no data to support this, other than the emotional argument of those who believe it. It may be true. Or not. By the way, I'm not without glider experience. I did the training, the 10 hours and so forth, but winter intervened before I took the ride, hence it's on the bucket list.

Same with flying trail draggers. Accepted wisdom is that this makes you a better pilot, too. Having seen some very good tail dragger pilots come to horrendous grief in benign circumstances, I'm inclined to feel not too special about being a tail dragger pilot. I think if you fly tail draggers, you're neither a real man nor a better pilot, but simply a pilot who flies tail draggers.

By the way, when I gauged the cost of the ATP, I wasn't clear. If you already have the commercial, it wouldn't cost $1500 unless you need a lot of remedial. The ATP doesn't require specific instruction nor even an endorsement; just the written and practical. If you have the hours--and the type of hours, see 61.159--you simply schedule the ride. It's essentially a higher level instrument ride with some skill maneuvering and regulatory review included.

A very current pilot who's sharp on the gauges would have no trouble with it, as I certainly didn't since I was flying 400 hours a year then. Now? Not sure I'd care to speculate.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 2, 2014 10:24 AM    Report this comment

"Gliders? Fun, but in terms of piloting skills they are pussycats to fly. In the sailplane world the real skill set is ferreting out and utilizing lift, which in powered operations certainly can be helpful but generally not critical."

Yes, the fun part of gliding is the constant challenge of finding lift and you're not strapped to a 200hp engine with complex systems to manage but neither is glider flying a simple and easy task. When power pilots fly as a guest, I offer them the controls and I can assure you, there are a different set of skills at work in soaring.

It's just...different. Once they acclimate, they are often hooked on soaring. As a lapsed SEL pilot and current Commercial glider pilot, I can't say if soaring flight made me better, although I am a better pilot than before.

I would heartily recommend soaring for any pilot who hasn't tried it for the following reasons:

1. No medical
2. No fuel, relatively low cost. The longer you stay up, the less it costs per hour. Our club charged me about $70 for a 2 hour flight recently.
3. No written if you have a private pilot license already
4. Every flight -every single flight, is different and challenging because you can always do better.
5. You'll be an ace at well coordinated 45 degree (or more) steep turns at near stall speed as you try to center and circle in lift. A great way to learn about incipient stall/spin entry and recovery.
6. No go arounds. Nervous about that? Learn to fly a glider and find out what forward slipping, slide slipping and spoilers are actually for. Spot landing every single time.
7. Pure fun! If you want to reconnect with the essence of flying, go fly a glider.
8. It's a team sport. It takes a group of people to conduct glider operations and glider folks are a lot of fun to hang around with. You'll make new friends.

Better pilot? Dunno about that. More fun for less cost? Definitely! Visit the soaring society of america ( web site to find a place to try it out.

Posted by: Tom Berry | January 2, 2014 11:00 AM    Report this comment

" Accepted wisdom is that [favorite rating/endorsement] makes you a better pilot", I think, is the easiest way to sum it all up. More training and a willingness to submit oneself to additional training and evaluation seems to be what really makes you a better pilot, similar to how it's the pilots that regularly attend safety seminars that don't need to be reminded about the importance of them. However, I can see how for some, having a goal in mind for the training can be the motivating factor in actually obtaining the training.

Usefulness (or not) of the glider rating aside, I'm pursuing it because it exposes me to a different aspect of flying, it's relatively inexpensive (at least as far as aviation expenses go), and most importantly, it's fun. These are the same reasons I got my ASES and AMEL ratings. Next on my list is helicopter, but that's most definitely not "inexpensive".

Posted by: Gary Baluha | January 2, 2014 11:17 AM    Report this comment

Regarding Paul's comment on the value of glider training; first thing I thought of was Bob Pearson's dead-stick landing of a 767 that flamed out over Canada. (Gimli glider, 1983). I've read several accounts that put emphasis on his glider pilot skills figuring largely into that flight's successful outcome. It's more anecdotal than scientific, but it make sense to me.

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | January 2, 2014 11:51 AM    Report this comment

I've read Sully's book, and I distinctly remember the part where he visited the bloody aftermath of an airplane crash at the local airfield where he was learning to fly as a youth. I think it was a biplane and he knew the pilot. Must have made a deep impression. He was and is very analytical by nature. He was determined to learn as much as he could so as to reduce the chances of it ever happening to him.

Posted by: Matthew Lee | January 2, 2014 1:19 PM    Report this comment

Bertorelli may change his opinion after he gets the rating. I have 250 plus hours of glider flying and 24000 hours of heavy iron flying for a major air carrier. I definitely think glider experience makes a better pilot. Flying gliders teaches energy management, coordinated use of all three controls and an acute awareness of what the airplane is doing in all realms of flight. Flying thru a rotor cloud at the end of a 200 foot tow rope to reach a mountain wave will give a pilot more experience in coordinated flying than a 1000 hours of single engine cross country touring. It was easy to tell if a pilot had glider experience when he had a crossing altitude restriction . The non glider guys would make the altitude 5 to 10 miles early and power up to the fix with their feet flat on the floor. They would make an approach with all the drag hanging out miles from the runway and the engines at high thrust.
The Colgan pilots would have quickly recognized they were in a stall when they looked at the sink rate and airspeed if they had glider experience. Sullenberger knew he couldn't glide to Newark because he didn't have enough altitude to trade for flying speed to make the runway. The Asiana accident probably would not have to happend if any of the pilots had glider experience. They would have recognized that the sink rate was to great to get them to the landing spot on the runway.
A power pilot of Cessna's to 747s will be a better pilot with a glider rating. He will have the confidence in his flying skills to turn off the automation at any time and he will fly with precision and coordination. Instead of 6 hours in a level C or D sim the Feds should require 50 hours in gliders.

Posted by: BRIAN R WENDT | January 2, 2014 1:35 PM    Report this comment

5000' above the Midwestern haze in 1965 when this 16yr old took his first lessons, sans headsets, my instructor pulled the power (shove that nose down!) on our 140 and shouted to me to fly as if I ran out of fuel. We safely desended to 1500' and powered up to a landing. Back in the quiet office, he repeated to me many times, the 140 is not a glider, it doesn't have the wingspan, weight, aerodynamics, etc. to fly like one, so don't ever confuse the two.

Nothing I read in Brian Wendt's post or others' reveal something I haven't had the opportunity to learn and perform in a powered aircraft. To cite 'non-glider guys' with poor skills as testimony for glider relevance is unconvincing. And no one knows, ever, what someone would have done differently in accident scenarios if they had more or fewer ratings under their belt. Not even the Amazing Kreskin. That's just naive.

Someone mentioned unusual attitude training - I'd say that is the direction to go for the fulfillment of those who eternally chase the horizon, er, perfection. Soaring does look like a splendid way to spend a few hours, though. Maybe it'll go on my bucket list, too, someday.

Posted by: David Miller | January 2, 2014 3:36 PM    Report this comment

I'm an instructor in both airplanes and gliders. Airplane pilots fixate on the "power off landing" as the primary benefit of a glider rating--but "it ain't necessarily so." While the glider experience will teach you to establish the glide--speed up into a headwind to maximize distance covered, and to fly a pattern rather than landing straight-in--these qualities can also be taught in powered planes. The benefit of glider flying manifests itself in better AIRMANSHIP.

Glider flying teaches coordination--failure to use rudder is quickly apparent. It teaches the ability to fly the aircraft in steep turns while attention is diverted elsewhere. It teaches good low-speed maneuvering on the edge of a stall--without benefit of a stall warning system. Glider pilots don't fear stalls--they LIVE on the edge of an accelerated stall all the time. I tell people that "gliders fly more like jets than airplanes fly like jets"--they are aerodynamically clean--put the nose down 2 degrees in a Skyhawk and little happens--put the nose down in a glider and it accelerates--like a jet--perhaps THAT is the reason that the USAF Academy and most East Bloc countries start their jet pilots in gliders. Many jets have a glide ratio of about 20-1--much like a primary glider. Gliders also teach precision--like a jet, carrying an extra 10 knots results in a long float. The ability to fly formation on a towplane is almost an airshow act--two dissimilar aircraft tethered with a 200' rope, maneuvering, climbing, and banking. And then, there is that ability to manage energy--another bit of knowledge applicable to a jet--or to power flying.

Does flying a glider make you a better (and more confident) pilot? Absolutely--and as Sully pointed out, it isn't necessarily about the forced landing--that's just a side benefit. I've always felt that ANY aeronautical knowledge and experience made a better pilot.

Posted by: jim hanson | January 2, 2014 6:27 PM    Report this comment

Every flying machine has its own characteristics and quirks. Wide speed envelope, narrow speed envelope. High or low power-off sink rate. Lots of adverse yaw, little adverse yaw. Nasty stall, benign stall. Ground rolls in the right direction, prefers to swap ends if possible. Lands on water, sinks in water.

Experiencing as wide a range of these characteristics as possible certainly can make you a more confident pilot, but there are plenty of "good" pilots who have never flown anything but C-150s. It's all aerodynamics :-)

Posted by: John Wilson | January 2, 2014 6:55 PM    Report this comment


I did an ATP when I was flying Sabreliners in the military in the 1970s, and I'll agree that it was and is mostly eye-candy. But if an ATP spurs someone to do more training, that is a good thing. That was a principal reason (years ago) why the FAA modified the requirement to have a physical before the commercial (Class II) or ATP (Class I) could be taken. Many folks could not pass the physical, so they could not do the training. Now you only need the physical if you exercise the privileges of the commercial or ATP.

You missed some important points, however:
--The single-engine ATP requirements are largely unchanged by the new rule. So a GA pilot looking to add an ATP should probably look at the single engine ATP. So there is still no reason to not pursue a single engine ATP.
--I think your cost of $10K is way understated. We are talking about 30 hours of airline-style "approved" training here, plus the 6 hours of approved simulator time. I don't know for sure, but I think we are talking more like $50K.

Lots of other folks are commenting on the glider rating. I went and got one after flying for 35 years. I do think it improves the stick and rudder skills a bit, but most of our accidents are related to judgement, and there is not much to learn there from a glider rating.


Vince Massimini
Kentmorr Airpark, MD

Posted by: SV MASSIMINI | January 3, 2014 8:47 AM    Report this comment

Actually, Vince, that single-engine restriction on the ATP is a good point. I missed that detail in the NPRM. In that context, many pilots who just want the rating and don't need to use it can still get it as they always could, in a single.

But the 30 hours of "approved training" is ground school. I suspect we'll see Tcompanies develop computer-based training just as the airlines have been doing. that should be affordable. That leaves the sim time. There are companies selling Level D time in the $1000 to $1200 per hour range, so six hours should come in under $10,000.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 3, 2014 9:05 AM    Report this comment

". I think if you fly tail draggers, you're neither a real man nor a better pilot, but simply a pilot who flies tail draggers."

Gotta disagree. The 5 hours I spent checking out in a Citabria was more challenging and rewarding than any of my previous instruction. Whether it makes you a "Better" pilot overall I can't say, but it *definitely* improves your basic stick 'n rudder skills, with emphasis on the latter.

Posted by: Eric Gudorf | January 3, 2014 9:29 AM    Report this comment

I did part of my primary training in a Tri-Pacer; that too, will force you to learn energy management as it's basically a flying brick with stubby wings! I flew every landing high and tight just in case the Lyc gave out and slipping it in was standard procedure with s-turns or whatever else was needed.
When I transitioned to a Skyhawk, I thought I was flying a sailplane because it floated like a feather ha ha!

Posted by: A Richie | January 3, 2014 9:49 AM    Report this comment

After a 30year career of airline flying and a type rating in the B737, and the B747 I feel that during the work I did to preparing for the ATP (ATR in my day) and subsequent type ratings I found the lack of training in specific areas was obvious. No training in stick shaker or stick pusher while in the flight mode.

The Buffalo Captain did not recognize what was going on. Then he got the stick shaker telling him to do something to correct the situation. Again, he gets stick pusher he did not recognize what was going on. I think I know why.

All we were ever taught in the simulators was to test the stick shaker and the stick pusher as part of the cockpit preflight. We all did it a thousand times or more. But, TELL IF ANY ONE EVER GOT EITHER OF THESE TWO WARNINGS IN THE SIM WHILE FLYING THE AIRCRAFT? I never did, not once! This is an area that most sim programs have not emphasized in sim training syllabus. Of course, we never entered the realm as it would have surely been a bust.. So--the first time you actually get these warnings is exactly THE FIRST TIME YOU EVER GOT THE WARNINGS!!

I am not taking the crew off the hook here and I know all the bad commentary about this particular crew. but, in some fairness, IFR in and out of icing conditions, a very weak, tired first officer (who exacerbated the scenario by raising the flaps (uncommanded) we had a very bad combination of events, as always, that caused the crash.

Start training folks to respond to all the alarms and aid in a flight scenario that will most certainly add some realism to their purpose and use. The Asiana crew flew right into the approach lights and sea wall with everything screaming at them? Didn't help them much either.

Posted by: JOHN BRIER | January 3, 2014 12:00 PM    Report this comment

Hey guys. I'm about Paul's age, I think, and love his writing. I have an ATP and glider, and have always enjoyed aerobatics, also. I can add a couple of examples where I can see extra ratings have helped.

One, was a horrifying video I saw, maybe on AVWEB, of some guys flying low in the mountains, approaching a summit, and stalling into the trees. A glider or motorglider pilot would sense the sink, even without any instruments, and immediately SPEED UP downhill to get away from it. It is counterintuitive to put the nose down when you're going down in sink, but it is the most efficient way to get to better air. I fly motorgliders and love the flying much more than I imagined.

Getting the ATP made me learn some lessons that I'll never forget. Such as checking the altimeter at OM crossing, even though I should have done that with my instrument rating in 1975. While the practiced skills may deteriorate from checkride day, I will never forget the lessons learned about engine out priorities that were cemented during the ATP prep, which were more far reaching than during my regular multi training.

Aerobatics, I think, really do help. If somebody who flew enough aerobatics lost their attitude instruments, or somehow, came out of a cloud inverted, they could easily right themselves without pulling too many G's or turning it into a death spiral. Aerobatics teaches a calm, instinctive spin recovery, while maintaining directional orientation. In fact, in the most basic aerobatic competition form, the recovery must begin with a perfectly vertical downline, in order to be judged as acceptable....because the quickest recovery is so easy and benign, that it doesn't even register visually as much of a spin. So, to somebody who's done hundreds of spins to a vertical downline, then managed the energy of the pullup and the exact direction, is simply asked to come out of an accidental spin, they wouldn't even have to look up from whatever they were texting that caused the spin in the first place.

Posted by: STEVE MORSE | January 3, 2014 7:52 PM    Report this comment

'...they wouldn't even have to look up from whatever they were texting that caused the spin in the first place.' LOL! Texting while recovering from a spin is quite the skill level. :)

Posted by: David Miller | January 3, 2014 9:57 PM    Report this comment

For those who actually need the ATP rating, the new rules will have no real effect. Any job that requires an ATP will require that they complete the company training program and get a type rating in the aircraft they will be flying. That training will fulfill the 30hr ground and simulator requirement. Already having an ATP might help a candidate get an interview, but it isn't required (to be hired) for the job.

The regional airlines hiring requirements are now simply to have the hours needed to be eligible for the ATP and to have passed the ATP written. After the pilots are hired, they will train to get their (now required) type rating and, in the process, their ATP. An ATP rating is not required to get the job, only to get through training in order to keep the job.

What this new rule actually does is to allow the Regionals to justify the pitifully low "slave" wages they will continue to pay new hire First Officers since there will no longer be any other cost-effective way for a pilot to get a Multi-engine ATP. "Yes, the job only pays $19,000 your 1st year but you're getting a $30,000 ATP/Type rating!"

For those wanting the ATP rating for bragging rights, the new rules will make it significantly more expensive and their dollars might be better spent with other types of training like tail wheel, advanced upset or glider.

Posted by: KRIS LARSON | January 4, 2014 12:41 PM    Report this comment

Ok - try this! A recent college grad had a 4.0 (wow!) GPA upon graduation. Another student, from the same university, also graduated, but only with a 2.5 GPA (sorry Dad!) - and BOTH received their "BS" degrees.
Now take this 1,500 hr ATP thing; isn't about the quality of the "time" and not the quanity? NOW guys/gals BOTH have attained the ATP certificates and have the required 1,500 hr mark; But WHO is the more skilled and focus pilot? OR, how then does one measure competency and situation awareness in these two aviators?

Posted by: Rod Beck | January 9, 2014 8:52 PM    Report this comment

Paul, as you might have ascertained from previous negative responses to your position, many of us do not discount the applicability of skills learned while soaring to our everyday flying life. I doubt seriously if you won any fans with those statements. I use my ATP all the time and soaring improved on those skills. With soaring it is about energy management and precision, putting the craft down exactly where you want it. That can translate to any aircraft. Don't sell it short. And yes, they are fun to fly.

One more I will add to all the good points brought up here.

The tragic Q-400 crash was but one of the crashes that prompted the victim's families to lobby Congress to initiate these changes. I still wonder where they came up with the arbitrary replicates an aircraft weight at least 40,000 pounds. An ATP is required of the captain of a 16,600 pound Beech 1900 in scheduled passenger service or an 18,300 pound Learjet 35a doing charter, so that weight is irrelevant.

Posted by: Mike Ely | June 17, 2014 8:04 PM    Report this comment

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