New FAA Rule Will Hurt Small City Air Service

Small airports have lost a lot of service over the last several years, and a new rule by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is now very likely going to make things even worse. The new rule will dramatically increase the number of hours required for pilots to be able to fly commercially in the US. This is theoretically being done in the name of safety, of course, but I’m not convinced that’s what this plan will achieve.

Regional Pilots

You’re probably wondering how I’m connecting the dots here between the number of hours required for a pilot and reduced small city flying, right? Let me walk through this the way I see it.

The entry level role for a pilot at an airline is as a first officer. Today, to even be considered for that you have to have your commercial pilot certificate. To get that you need (in most cases), 250 hours of flight time.

In the wake of the Colgan Air accident in Buffalo, Congress decided it was time to toughen up pilot rules back in 2010. It’s taken awhile, but the FAA has now finally put the rule into place that follows what Congress directed the administration to do.

The new rule will require that first officers get their Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate and that means, with few exceptions, you need to have an incredible 1,500 hours of flight time before you can even be considered for a job flying paying passengers. Think about that. If you went up for 2 hours a day, every single day, it would still take more than 2 years. And this is flight time, so none of the time getting to the airport, studying, preparing the airplane for flight, etc will count.

And what’s the pay off? Well today, if you get hired, it’ll probably be by a regional airline. And those regional airlines pay very little. For example, a first year first officer at SkyWest, one of the largest regionals in the US flying for pretty much every major airline earns $22 per flight hour. If you fly 80 hours a month, you’ll make just over $21,000 a year.

Now let’s think about this. If you’re a pilot, are you going to spend a ton of time and money to get those 1,500 hours just to be able to fly around for peanuts? That’s a tough sell. It’s easier to justify today if you need only 250 hours, because then you can at least get a job and work your way up more quickly. But getting to 1,500 hours is a whole different story. People have worried about pilot shortages for years, but this rule change makes it a near certainty.

So if that’s the case and airlines have trouble finding enough pilots, what happens? Well, the big airlines won’t have a problem. They look at the regionals as their farm teams, effectively. So they will continue to have a pipeline from the regionals for many years to come. But the regionals are the ones hiring fresh young faces. And if those faces stop showing up, then something has to give.

That “something” will inevitably mean regionals will have to spend more money in one of two ways.

Some regionals may end up spending money on training programs. They can offer to train pilots up and then have them start flying when they’re done. This will mean that it’s less costly for a pilot to get started even if a huge number of hours is still required. The other way to get more pilots flying is to spend more money on wages. Make the piloting profession more attractive and people will eventually decide it’s worth getting the 1,500 hours.

If regionals have to spend more money, then that cost has to be passed on to the major airlines they fly for. Contracts today are generally at a fixed fee with certain pass-through items that fluctuate based on cost, like fuel. If regional costs are higher, then they will have to charge their big partner airlines more to provide that service. And if they charge those airlines more, then those big airlines are going to have to decide if all the cities that receive service today can still support that level of service if costs are higher.

And that’s why small city service would take a hit.

The prospect of higher wages and bigger money naturally appeals to pilots, and the unions support this, as you would expect. What I just don’t know is whether this rule will actually contribute to improved safety or not. There is something to be said for having more hours, but look at the safety record in the US over the last decade and it’s hard to argue with the numbers. It’s not clear to me that having more hours would have even prevented the Colgan accident. There you had exhausted pilots, one of whom failed multiple check rides and may not have been adequately trained. The number of hours doesn’t jump out as the problem to me.

I would love to hear from the pilots here about your thoughts on this. I can see what the impact on the industry will be, but I just don’t know if it’s truly justifiable. What do you think?

[Original pilot photo via Shutterstock]

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101 Comments on "New FAA Rule Will Hurt Small City Air Service"

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David
Guest
One of the problems seems to be that pilots flying for regionals get paid very little and end up having to either get a 2nd job, sleep in their car, or find other ways to make ends meet – the result is that regional pilots are exhausted and make mistakes or fall asleep while flying. If as it seems, that regionals just aren’t paying their pilots enough cash then regionals have to pay pilots more and fares have to go up. It’s difficult for Govt to enforce a minimum pay rate specifically for pilots, so this has to be achieved… Read more »
Eagle787
Guest
There is nothing in Public Law 111-216 that addresses wages. Public Law 111-216 will not make pilot wages go up. In fact new rest rules that went into effect 1 Jan 2014 under 14 CFR 117 now mean that pilots fly less hours per month…which means less take home pay per month for the poor pilots. The unions have not renegotiated wages in light of the new 14 CFR 117 rules. And in fact the 14 CFR 117 rules aren’t working….I know one case of a pilot flying for a major who should have gotten 19 hours rest in between… Read more »
SirWired
Guest
Given that the current wage of $22 / flight hour is almost criminally low, I have a really hard time getting upset that wages will have to rise. In no other industry do you put somebody with years of training at the controls of a $10M+ machine, with the lives of 50 or so people on the line, and pay them, net, less than what you’d pay somebody to bag groceries. But yeah, 1,500 hours is a pretty high bar to cross… there are only a limited number of cargo and flight instructor jobs to go around. (And flight instruction… Read more »
Eagle787
Guest

Cape Air pays their F/O’s $9.48 an hour to start.

Mokulele pays $7.75 an hour and also deducts half of that as training costs (up to $4500 I think).

$22/hour is great in comparison, but remember that’s only with a guarantee of 75 hours a month….and I think the max is 85 hours per month? It’s not a 173 hour month, like in the 40hr a week working world.

Thus many pilots need second jobs to survive.

Eagle787
Guest

Cape Air pays its F/Os $9.48 an hour to start

Mokulele pays $7.75, and deducts half of that in training costs (up to $4500 I think).

$22/hour is great, but remember that’s only a guarantee of 75 hours a month. And I think the max possible is 85 hours per month. It’s certainly not 173 hours per month like for a 40hr a week office job.

Eagle787
Guest

Cape Air pays its FOs $9.48/hour to start.

Mokulele pays $7.75/hr, and deducts half of that for training costs (up to $4500 I think)

In comparison $22/hr seems great. But remember that’s only with a guarantee of 75 hours a month (and I think the maximum is 85 hours a month). Way less than the standard 173 hours a month that a normal 40/hr a week job pays.

So pilots end up needing to get second jobs in order to survive. Which leads to fatigue.

pilotaaron1
Guest

This right here is why I left the industry and went into computers. Regional pilot pay is a total joke. The only problem is I don’t really see anything giving really soon. There are too many other pilots who love to fly so much that they don’t care what they are being paid. And most others look at this as “paying their dues” so to speak for a major airline job. So to a lot of these guys it’s just part of the process.

Jason Steele
Guest
Yeah, me too. I was in computers, got a commercial license, and an offer from a regional. Decided to stick with computers then, and journalism now. Already got 1,500 hours, and I have no plans to apply to the regionals. One thing to remember; There is no such thing as a pilot shortage, just a shortage of people willing to serve as pilot for $18k a year. Plenty of people will go to economically unjustified lengths to become a pilot, but regionals might eventually have to raise pay incrementally to compete. But think about this: If a pilot makes $22/flight… Read more »
Cook
Member

@Jason. Spot on! The ones that really scare me are some of the foreign carriers that begin 737 FO training with under 200 total hours. Those are not pilots, but button pushers. I know, a little off-topic, but again it is still about safety when the *&%@ing button does not work. There are other good reasons to support the ATP and 1500 hour rule, but enhanced safety alone is enough.

Richard
Guest
Jason, you won’t have a captain with less than 1,000 hours. It takes more hours than that to get an ATP rating. I think the minimum for co-pilots should be less, maybe a minimum of 500 – 750 hours and raise the requirement that they have to have 2500 hours to fly as captain. Part of the problem is in the training, where a pilot flunks a check ride several times. When that happens, he/she needs to be shown the door instead of maybe some instructor/check airman signing them off as passing. Just my take on it. I have a… Read more »
Troy
Guest

I do not agree. I gave a Bi- Annual to pilot with more than 8 thousand hours in my twin engine airplane and he damned near killed me. So do not go trying to blow smoke that hours makes a good pilot. I have 1000 hours and could out fly most of the idiots I have given Bi Annuals to all have had more hours than me..

Rob
Guest
Sorry Troy but you’re clueless. If a pilot has been flying jets day in and day out – ones they could probably fly circles around you with a blindfold – then try to fly a Seminole or small twin, they’ll likely have a harder time than if they flew nothing at all. I fly jets for an airline – I can roll on the landing every single time. But I wouldn’t even attempt to land a small twin without some refresher/instruction again. Even though once upon a time I instructed in them. It’s completely different from what I’m now used… Read more »
Eagle787
Guest

What did you do with that poor flier Troy? Not sign him off? Report him to the FAA?

Ted
Guest

Nice post, Cranky. I agree with everything you said, but I’d add that a possible solution to the pilot shortage will be to use the advances in technology to get down to a 1 pilot cockpit. I think this rule will advance this idea into the next 10 years or so (unless blocked by the government). There’s no other solution – the industry will shrink because of this rule.

Andrew
Guest

Do you think that will ever happen? What if the pilot has a heart attack mid-flight (like happened back in ’09 on a Continental flight from Brussels to Newark)? I agree something like that is incredibly rare, but do you really see regulatory agencies moving past it?

Eric C
Guest
1 pilot, perhaps, but 2 person still. As a stepping stone to more fully automated planes I think we’ll see 1 real pilot plus another “operator”. The operator would effectively be a first officer of today, expected to learn and advance to the left seat in time. The difference being that the airplane would be single-pilot certified and the second pilot would be basically a safety backstop who could program the autoland. We’re already seeing the foundations for this. The Multicrew Pilot License lowers pilot requirements, and long haul relief pilots are sometimes not even qualified to takeoff or land,… Read more »
Eagle787
Guest

I’ve heard that FedEx & UPS are testing this 1-pilot concept, but I cannot confirm this info.

Eric C
Guest
American Eagle is offering a $5000 signing bonus even as USAirways management tells them they must cut pay to Pinnacle levels in order to renew their CPAs. All Delta Connection carriers have CPAs that basically reset to Pinnacle levels every 5 years. In short, the regionals are all looking at being forced to cut pay at the very time they must compete more than ever for pilots. Republic is so hard up for pilots that their Q400 classes are going unfilled, greatly slowing their addition of that type, and their AA E175 ops are rumored to be greatly delayed. You… Read more »
Ben
Guest

Interesting take on the issue. I like the idea of requiring a certain amount of time in the right seat before moving over to the left. Forces them to gain experience before moving up, but at the same time doesn’t raise the bar too high for would be pilots. Sadly, I think it will take an extreme pilot shortage or severe cutbacks in service to smaller cities before something like that is considered. Even then, negative stories about the rollback in required hours might derail it

Eric C
Guest
What everyone who says “1500 hours for more safety” overlooks two things: 1) it is that it is the Captain, not the FO, who sets the standard for safety in a cockpit and 2) experience in an airliner is better than most any other kind of experience. Put them together and you see that the best improvement to safety is requiring more time as FO before upgrading. As a Captain, I’d say most of my FOs are really truly ready to upgrade at 4 years. 4 winters of icy runways and Type IV de-ice, 4 summers of thunderstorms and squall… Read more »
JBM
Guest

Part 121.436(a)(3) of the new FAA reg requires 1,000 hours of flight time in air carrier operations (designed as ‘one full year’ but in reality about 1.5 years for a typical airline) or 500 hours in a multi-pilot military aircraft as SIC before switching to left seat. So there’s minimum time PLUS the 1,500 hour rule (PLUS ATP requirement, etc.).

Bill from DC
Guest

a little off topic but what are “check rides”? thanks!

Eric C
Guest

A formal test in a plane or simulator where a pilot must demonstrate competency over a government mandated list of skills, typically performed prior to first flight with passengers and annually thereafter.

Ron
Guest

And just today, two small cities lose service: Lewistown and Miles City, Montana. I know, totally unrelated…

Eric C
Guest

You remind me what I forgot to bring up before. When every regional is fighting over the three remaining qualified pilots, why would anyone go work for Great Lakes or Silver? Those airlines offer the lowest pay and poorest quality of life in exchange for lower hiring minimums and fast upgrade. One of those will go away, at least, and while PIC time is always nice it still pays better to fly right seat at ExpressJet than left at Lakes. If Lakes can’t find pilots, more towns like Miles City will lose service.

David
Guest

Going off topic…

Lewistown and Miles City have commercial flights only because of the Essential Air Service Scheme – namely Federal subsidy. Miles City has a population of about 8,500 people and 591 emplanements in 2011, while Lewistown has a population of just 6,000 people with just 348 emplanements in 2011

Is it *really* necessary for these 2 airports to have commercial air service ? Sounds to me as if these 2 towns losing air service is the right thing to happen

Chicago Chris
Member

According to Silver Airways, which used to run EAS flights to Lewistown and Miles City, the DOT pulled the two cities from the program. Still a valid point with some others that get EAS.

Ron
Guest

Yes and no. EAS is a horribly inefficient way to serve some of these cities, but the public should support some form of access to these remote communities. Unfortunately, today EAS is the only game in town. Next month I need to get from the hi-line to southern Montana; I would have been happy to drive a car but nobody provides one-way rentals in the area, or take a bus but the only service is twice weekly. So I’m flying.

nobody
Guest

Sounds like we need a more robust Amtrak network plus state-supported thruway (bus) connections. Better for the environment, cheaper, and more versatile.

Thruway by definition must connect from the Amtrak rail trunk so it’s not what you think of when you think an intercity bus, ie the old Greyhound intercity highway service with local stops (Greyhound pulled out of this business for the most part anyway).

For the few states that have this implemented it can be very effective. (Especially for those with medical conditions that prevent them from flying.)

Cook
Member
I’m prepared for some bashing over this, so bash away. I am IN FAVOR of the new ATP/1500 hour rules for part 121 FOs. Yes, it will be tough on some folks, both pilots and pax for a couple of years. It will also likely improve the quality of those pilots and, in less time than may think, substantially increase the sub-poverty wages now paid to first year regional pilots. Frankly, I don’t want to fly on any part 121 carrier who employs 500-hour wonder kids to do about half the flying. Will it cost us a little more? Probably… Read more »
Jason Steele
Guest

I’m with you, see my comments above.

nobody
Guest

All they’re doing is bringing air transportation in line with what’s already out there for ground transportation, that is to say Class A interstate freight hauling and rail crafts.

Martin
Guest

You should not be looking at the quantity of flight hours, but instead, the quality of those flight hours. Is a flight instructor sitting in the right seat of an airplane for 1000+ hours of flight time adequately preparing him/herself for the skills and operation of a transport category aircraft? I’d venture a guess to say no.

The problem with this line of thought is that the airlines are pretty much in agreement (as signified by their written comments to this NPRM) that a 500-750 hour pilot has far better training success than a 1500 hour pilot.

Greg Thomson
Guest
It is the quality that matters, but ultimately the quality can wash out with around 1,500 hours – which is still a low amount of experience. As to, does 1000+ as a CFI make a better, more experienced pilot? Absolutely it does. I learned very little in my flight training compared to even just the first couple months as a flight instructor. I would even venture to say that the Colgan pilots may have responded to the stall correctly had either of them had experience as flight instructors – going through countless stalls, breaking them apart, and teaching off of… Read more »
Blaine
Guest

In no way does being an instructor make you more prepared. Maybe when it comes to theory. Only actual hands on the controls flying can do it. Instructors simply sit there and talk. I would trust a 500 hour hands on guy way before a 1000 hour flight instructor.

Sam
Guest
@ No Fly Zone Please review the final rule, it enforces significantly more than 1500 hours prior to an ATP issuance. It introduces a new 14 CFR 61.156 which is an FAA mandated program that will significantly increase cost to the individual and an air carrier. This rule will decimate the industry within a few years. Between a significant decrease in domestic pilot starts (schools), Age 65 attrition, and forecast global demand, this increased cost barrier will further reduce attractiveness to this industry. As it stands, many 14 CFR 135 and smaller 14 CFR 121 carriers will be unable to… Read more »
Eagle787
Guest

How will it improve pilot wages? There was nothing in Public Law 111-216 to increase wages. And now 14 CFR 117 reduces the number of hours pilots can fly per month, which reduces wages.

XJT DX
Guest
I definitely fall into the category of would-have-been airline pilot. Was working my way up to 600hrs total (what most regionals REALLY hire at) when this rule kicked in and hit the final nail on the coffin. Working at a regional and experiencing the meager pay and quality of life conditions didn’t help my motivation much either. Since the new regs only affected part 121 (scheduled commercial flights), then on to US charters and private puddle jumpers. As for the industry, the regional model is destined for failure in the current industry. Like AA, any regional which hasn’t declared bankruptcy… Read more »
David SF eastbay
Member

The airlines will just need to subcontract with Emirates to fly all their A380’s between Dubuque and Paducah :-)

Maybe the Feds should have started lower and maybe raised the hours to 500 and looked more into changing work rules to improve safety.

Hoser
Guest

Perhaps the majors, esp. Delta, are attempting to get pay down before they may have to increase it in the future. About to retire after 24 years w/ a regional, and glad to go at a good time. Only if ALL the regionals stand together and refuse cuts to pay & bennies will the race to the be the lowest cost carrier stop. ALPA isn’t doing a damn thing to help with this BTW, heck MECs of the regionals seem to agree with managements!

Steven
Guest

Unfortunately the details are a little off in this article. Congress mandated the ATP requirement, not the FAA. This rule rule actually reduces the number of hours required for many pilots to obtain an ATP. If you are a military pilot you oly need 750 hours and if you graduated from a four year aviation program you oly need 1000 hours. This rule actually helps to mitigate the poor law that congress passed following the Colgan crash.

dan powers
Guest

as a 28,000 hour airline pilot….. PILOTS WITH LESS THAN 1500 hrs HAVE NO BUSINESS FLYING REGIONAL JETS…selling a ticket on colgan and advertising it as continental express is a switch and bait tactic …deceiving the flying public scheme

A
Guest

I agree. Regionals should have planes painted in their own livery. People are duped on regionals to thinking they are on mainline metal. Many wouldn’t fly a regional if it was operated under their own name. I am one that avoids regionals when possible, but mostly because I hate the CRJ’s.

Not sure how I feel about the 1500 hours rule. Lots of careers require a lot of training for little pay. Only supply and demand will fix that. Hours on the job, certifications, passed tests, etc. are our only quantitative measurements and are valid IMO.

Troy
Guest

Just as many people are killed on large airlines as small.

garyedel
Member

Wait. I sense a new fee coming. “Pilot Experience and hours surcharge.” 10 dollars per segment to recoupe the cost of raising pilot pay on regional carriers.

Eagle787
Guest

Somebody did a calculation that the regionals would only need to add $1.46 per seat and then the pilots would have a decent living wage. But they won’t do that. They focus on the bottom line to please investors.

phonetime07
Member
As a previous airline Capt. with over 29000 hrs, the first thing i would say is flying is a talent , i started flying at 15 and had my first job as a B727 FO at age 23 ,, from start to end of career i never failed a check ride . These 2 pilots RIP , failed check rides several times , which in my book is not acceptable to fly passengers . Also at age 47 and flying for a regional ? The source of qualified pilots during my days was the military, supply has dried here ,… Read more »
chocolate
Member

Mark another piece of BS legislation up for our bribe taking congress and big business!

Buck Rogers
Guest

Actually, this piece of legislation was pushed hard by the families that lost their loved ones on that Colgan plane which cratered into some poor sap’s house in 2009.

Charles
Guest
Actually most of what they pushed for wasn’t implemented. They were looking for stronger rest rules (which they got, except small carriers like Great Lakes and Silver can avoid these due to size dictating part 135 rest rules), stricter training requirements at the commercial license level in particular dealing with stall recovery techniques, and better disclosure of what airline is actually flying your flight. The 1500 hour rule was the “fix” that didn’t really fix anything. The first officer in the Colgan Q400 crash had 1,470 hours… if only she had 30 more. Get real, 1500 hours flying in an… Read more »
Eagle787
Guest

This piece of legislation FAILED on its own in Congress several times, until it was appended on the coattails of HR 5900 which was an FAA appropriations (funding) bill. If President Obama had not signed HR 5900, the FAA would have run out of money & shut down on August 2, 2010. So of course he had to sign. And this frivolous legislation masquerading as the Airline Safety and Pilot Improvement Act came along with it.

Mark
Guest
One mistake. You still only need a commercial pilot rating to carry passengers for hire. The change was to the First Officer requirements for Part 121 scheduled air services. First Officer requirements for Part 91 fractional ownership operations, and part 135 charters, do not appear to have been changed. To your point, this will dramatically reduce the number of available pilots for the regionals. The result of a smaller labor pool will be an increase in salary. Regionals will now be looking at a similar labor pool (1,500 hours, ATP certificate) as higher paying pilot positions. As for the previously… Read more »
mstengel
Member
I wanted to be a career pilot for the longest time – but the combination of factors like poor pay, long hours, time away from home, lack of career stability and security, etc, led me to a different career path (still in aviation, but in professional services). The seniority system also really bothers me, as I’d much rather be awarded based on my own merit. I know plenty of pilots who “fly for peanuts”, and it’s a shame because the airlines who employ them seem to leverage their passion for flying as a way to get a lower wage. I… Read more »
jaybru
Member
You didn’t say what you were talking about when you said “small city.” Just the EAS cities? Or, the many cities that used to have mainline aircraft service but now, because the mainline carriers decided it, have nothing but regional carrier service. Not sure EAS will survive much longer, but for all those other cities, their days may numbered, as well. Personally, all I care about is that guy or gal flying me is really qualified and provides me a decent service. Many a time I’ve been the only passenger on an early morning EAS single pilot, Cape Air 9-passenger,… Read more »
Eagle787
Guest

UA still has pilots on furlough today, so their pilot pool is still deep.

Nelson Rosado
Guest

I blogged about the upcoming pilot shortage last year (The Upcoming Pilot Shortage…… Made Worse by the Federal Government, July 25, 2012). I agree with you and I re-blogged your article. An earlier poster was correct. There are plenty of pilots and prospective pilots out there, just none willing to spend 100K to get licensed and rack up 1500 hours for 22K a year. My son and son-in-law are military pilots and hopefully they will go straight to a major when their obligation is up.

Joel P.
Guest
Be careful not to frame this as an increase from 250 to 1500. While 250 hours previously was the legal minimum to get hired as a First Officer at a regional airline, far more than 250 hours was generally required to be competitive for those positions; often more than 1500 was necessary. It was only a couple of times and only in the past decade or so that the regionals had trouble finding experienced pilots to fill their classes and had to drop their hiring minimums below 500 hours. As some other commenters have pointed out, the “pilot shortage” would… Read more »
Matt
Guest
I agree with your blog Mr. Snyder. You’re preaching to the choir. I wrote a similar article on my blog about the new 1,500 hour rule to get an atp certificate just to become a first officer on a regional airline. As I state on my blog, I can understand it being required for the captain of a regional airline. I also make reference to Colgan Air Flt 3407, noting that the flight crews schedules had them up at very odd hours and examining their behaviors the morning going into the crash. Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger himself could have been… Read more »
Pilot
Guest
In response to Matt’s post, “Once a new commercial pilot with 250 hours passes his commercial checkride, let him be eligible to get hired on as a first officer candidate working at a regional airline, learning from the captains and building up jet time.” I couldn’t disagree with that statement any more. I understand your an aspiring pilot, but your lack of experience is exactly why you don’t understand what your saying. Yes, the captain does have more experience and should be mentoring fo’s to become captain one day. However, when everything is going to hell in a hand basket,… Read more »
djsk
Guest
This pilot says you are spot on Cranky. Corporate greed, competition, and the false sense that the regional industry is “low cost” killed the goose that was laying golden eggs. The end game is a much smaller regional industry that is niche, high cost (as it always kind of was), and used only where needed. The result for the passenger, with less travel disruptions, should justify the slightly higher cost. My 6,500 hours of regional jet time (over 4,200 flights!) does not make me safe or competent to fly skydivers off a grass strip, tow a glider, pick up a… Read more »
mstengel
Member
Corporate greed? Maybe I’ll call it that when they make 15% profit margins consistently, which is yet to be seen in the airline business. Last time I checked, they need to make money as well to support the thousands of people working for them. It’s not corporate greed, it’s simply dynamic economics and changing landscapes that make certain models better than others. Ten years ago, 50-seat RJs were sustainable at $40/barrel. That’s not the case at $120/barrel and thus larger aircraft have lower costs per ASM. The regional industry definitely WAS lower cost back then! However, the industry would be… Read more »
Keith Brunson
Guest
The regionals have destroyed the career of many pilots. I think the regional jet was a grand scheme by the industry execs in which they knew in a very short period of time that the RJ would canvas all of North America where thousands of RJs being flown by underpaid flight crews would one day carry over 50% of all commercial traffic. And that is exactly what happened! An RJ was never supposed to fly from Chicago to Austin or Salt Lake City to Houston. Now the execs at the majors and the regionals want even more! They essentially want… Read more »
Ratherbeflyen
Guest
In response to Matt’s post, “Once a new commercial pilot with 250 hours passes his commercial checkride, let him be eligible to get hired on as a first officer candidate working at a regional airline, learning from the captains and building up jet time.” I couldn’t disagree with that statement any more. I understand your an aspiring pilot, but your lack of experience is exactly why you don’t understand what your saying. Yes, the captain does have more experience and should be mentoring fo’s to become captain one day. However, when everything is going to hell in a hand basket,… Read more »
Hillrider
Guest
Oh poor crybaby airline industry. The Feds prohibited them from imprisoning people on the tarmac, and they predicted it would be a disaster. Guess what: the appropriate measures were taken, cooperation were none existed was initiated, and people are significantly at lower risk for arguably hardly any cost. More of the same here. WHINING WHINING WHINING. Thankfully Congress made the FAA do something it should have done a long time ago (improving the qualifications, not necessarily through the increase in # of hours). Yes, supply and demand will lead to an increase in pay for a dwindling pool of qualified… Read more »
xjt pilot
Guest

The tarmac delay laws were not without repercussion. Before the law it may have taken you a few extra hours waiting for a delayed airplane, or you may have sat waiting to take off for a long time, but you got to where you were going. Now with the obscene fines imposed for a three hour tarmac delay airlines just cancel flights and dump hundreds of stranded passengers in the airport with a coupon for 10% off a hotel room.

Hillrider
Guest

Cancellation rates are LOWER now than before the no imprisonments rule.

Eric C
Guest
Your sentiment I understand, but your conclusions I feel are incorrect. We’re facing a loss of >3000 pilots/yr for retirement without that many coming to replace them. (Their replacements would consume >4.5 *million* flight training hours annually, pretty much an impossible number). With a shrinking roster of pilots their is no choice but to fly fewer flights, to fewer cities, in larger planes. You might think 1500 hours would improve safety, but its not likely. Has any accident or incident happened with someone with fewer hours? None that I am aware of. But here’s the wrinkle we’ll be facing now.… Read more »
Hillrider
Guest

Very good point about a reduction in supply potentially causing a degradation in quality. That presumes that airlines currently screened effectively for quality, and after reading the NTSB report of the Colgan accident (and a few others) I am not so sure.

Pilot
Guest
In response to Matt’s post, “Once a new commercial pilot with 250 hours passes his commercial checkride, let him be eligible to get hired on as a first officer candidate working at a regional airline, learning from the captains and building up jet time.” I couldn’t disagree with that statement any more. I understand your an aspiring pilot, but your lack of experience is exactly why you don’t understand what your saying. Yes, the captain does have more experience and should be mentoring fo’s to become captain one day. However, when everything is going to hell in a hand basket,… Read more »
Courtney
Guest
Chuck Yeager could never afford the $120,000 it would cost to buy flight time to get from 250 hours to 1,500 which doesn’t include the $30,000 in training he’d already spent. Chuck Yeager never would have been a pilot. That’s what you’re missing. The good pilots at 250 hours will not continue to be pilots. There’s no way to get to 1,500 hours because there are no jobs they’re eligible for until they get to 1,500 hours. It’s aviation’s greatest Catch 22, and nobody is catching on. There is bias everywhere. You can’t ask pilots with the time because they… Read more »
Scott
Guest
The regionals are making noise about the coming pilot shortage, but the majors are denying it. The difference is that the majors will benefit from a pilot shortage crippling the regional low-cost airlines, they want this shortage. If the industry waits until service is being cut all over the country, it will be a “crisis”, that can’t be fixed by raising pay and waiting years for pilots who will be paid more. The only fix will be to lower standards, thus lowering pay and costs for the airlines. The airlines would much rather lower standards and pay than raise pay.… Read more »
Scott
Guest
A possible unintended consequence to repealing the 1500-hour rule would be the situation in India right now. Their instructors have mostly been hired at the airlines, they have a pilot shortage already and now most of their flight schools are shut down. They are recruiting and training civil servants to become instructors, I’m not sure how they’ll keep them from leaving. They are considering using military pilots as instructors. Our schools in the US have been steadily shutting down for many years, we don’t have a lot of capacity for the massive demand coming. Nearly every pilot getting their CFII… Read more »
Buck Rogers
Guest

I’m a flight instructor and meet all the requirements for the old and new ATP rules requirements. There is NO WAY I am going to work for a regional airline. I rather stay doing flight instructing work than get abused by a regional airline. It’s simply not worth it. I’ve heard enough horror stories from reserve and line pilots to know better.

janet E
Member

News flash: Seniority at an airline is hire date, NOT EXPERIENCE!!! So you could have a Captain that has less experience than the first officer but just got hired before him/her.

Herman Lueckenotte
Guest
ERIC C You/re right on. The best way to get a new startup airline operation going is to employ 9 psgr aircraft that can be certified as single pilot operation, with a co-pilot that an airline can employe to assist ground handling. There’s a great benefit to this thinking. That’s certainly better than building time flying around cow pastures as a CFI, or small town single engine pilot. In my opinion, using this co-pilot procedure on 19 psgr aircraft should also be approved by the FAA, since most of those aircraft can be flown by one pilot. then again, what… Read more »
Chase
Guest
It’s somewhat disrespectful to see these 20000+ hour pilots constantly slamming regional pilots. Frankly, the regionals are in business and its pilots are in this position because of the downward pressure placed on them by mainline pilots. Essentially mainline pilots fight and fight and fight for more money and increased benefits, which adversely affects the regionals (need to lower costs for mainline partners). The disparity between a regional FO and mainline FO is striking, and when you throw this 1500 min into the equation it will only make the situation worse. Experience matters, and should be judged and PAID for… Read more »
John
Guest

Do you want your surgeon to attend medical school, then do one year of residency (i.e. 250 hours of flight time), or do you want that surgeon to do a fully four or five years of residency after medical school, plus a couple more years of a fellowship? The reality is that at 250 hours of flight time, a pilot barely has any experience. I don’t want that pilot flying me or my family during an emergency in poor weather. John G, Delta Air Lines

Eagle787
Guest

Pilot training to become an airline pilot costs about the same amount or more than training to become a doctor. And yet pilots make about 10% or less of what the doctor makes.

My numbers may be slightly off here, but they are close.

pawelrom
Member
You can still get CFI and CFI-I and get your experience, like many pilots did before. You don’t need 1,500 for any other commercial jobs, such as Part 135, 141, 61, etc, only Part 121. 250 is not enough experience to fly as an airline pilot with 76+ passengers on board. I’m an airline pilot in one of the major airline in US and I flew in regionals and and had an experience to fly with on of those 250 hours pilots… I had to be an instructor again and worry about safety of my passengers and working twice as… Read more »
Eagle787
Guest

It’s getting harder to find student pilots to teach these days, since not as many people want to be pilots as in year past. (You can check the stats on FAA.gov about new pilot starts.) So who are all of these CFIs going to teach? Foreign students for some schools. But less & less USA students.

Joe
Guest
You are right on the money. The pool of student pilots is decreasing!! Who am I to instruct? And I live in a large metropolitan area (about 4 million people) Not to mention, the economy generally across the United States currently is weak at best. People do not have the money for flight training that they once had. During my training I flew with graduates of 4 year aviation universities. Some were good, some were bad. Many of these people went to the regionals with only 600 hours or less. But I think that even if they had 1500 hours… Read more »
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[…] ARTICLE: New FAA Rule Will Hurt Small City Air Service […]

Tasha
Guest
Dear Brett, A few misnomers/inaccuracies esp w/r/t the new upgrade requirements and DOT Essential Air Service, which have been corrected by others in the comments. Please note (numbered for reference, not priority): 1) The new Public Law 111-216 (the official number of the new ATP regs we are all talking about here) says NOTHING about pilot pay. It will not increase pilot pay & the supply/demand theories that say it will are incorrect. 2) The new 14 CFR 117 rest requirements will have an effect of decresing pilot pay, b/c of decreasing a pilot’s number of flights per month and… Read more »
TrueBlueFlyer
Guest
The 1,500 hour rule is a farce. It’s all about the training. Putting in years of time building in a small single engine airplane certainly doesn’t relate to operating a transport category passenger jet in a multi-crew environment. This is not going to make air travel safer, just more laborious to get employed. Two things will make is safer…. better money and better hours. I work for a regional jet company and make $36/hour in my third year. That’s what they tell you you’re making… but, in reality it’s about $21/hr because I generally only get paid for about 60%… Read more »
Cook
Guest
Well crap! I don’t much care how those boys and girls get their hours, CFI, hauling freight or doing charters, but I do NOT want that 250 hour miracle kid flying my fanny on a commuter airplane. I don’t want to see any more of those stupid accidents – ‘pilot error’ and ‘pilot fatigue’ or ‘inexperience’ being the usual causes. I’d suggest a five-year grace on the ATP certificate, but maintain the 1500 hour total time requirement. Of course the wages are too low, but we all have to pay our low-wage dues to enter any profession. Wages are a… Read more »
Rob
Guest
I think something really crucial is being overlooked here. 1500 hrs can be 1 hr flown 1500 times. It’s not the number of hours so much as the type of hours. Anyone with half a brain can be taught SOP procedures and to fly for an airline. But the two biggest factors in many crashes like Buffalo, Air France, San Francisco etc. are a lack of situational awareness and basic “stick and rudder” skills. Believe me, the pilots we worry about when we climb into the cockpit aren’t the ones who are green when it comes to procedures and pushing… Read more »
Eagle787
Guest

And that’s the point. That F/O who was overcome had thousands of hours.

It’s not the total time that equates to necessary experience. There is so much more behind what makes a good pilot, one who anticipates to avoid bad situations, and one who reacts appropriately to correct bad situations.

You can have great pilots who have 500 hours TT, and you can have crappy pilots who have 1500++ hours TT. And you can have excellent pilots who unfortunately have an unexpected mental break one day and do bad things (á là Jet Blue & FedEx).

Rob
Guest

.

Omid
Guest

One thing that nobody raised was if I have 1500 hours why the hell should I work for a regional? I just go direct to majors!?

Rob
Guest

No one mentioned it because no major will hire a 1500 hr pilot. Not all Regional Captains even get hired. You’re only options are US Regionals or in China, India or the Middle East.

Omid
Guest

Middle and Far East airlines have some of the best industry track records with award wining airlines such as emirates, Cathy pacific, ethical, and Korean, Turkish to name only a few. they pay triple the salary with fantastic benefits flying the A380 777 and 747-8.

Robin C
Guest

Shameful that I cannot get to Billings – the largest city in Montana – non-stop from Oakland or San Francisco – or anywhere else. And when I travel through Salt Lake or Denver – I pay the most outrageous prices to get to Billings. Montana politicians – DO YOUR JOB! FIX THIS!

Robin Critelli
Guest

Shameful that I can’t get to Billings – the largest City in Montana – without going through Denver or Salt Lake City. And the cost!!! Outrageous. Montana politicians- DO YOUR JOB! FIX THIS!!

Patrick Johnson
Guest
I am at university studying aviation sciences it is a 4 year course and at the end of it i will have an ATP. Currently i have a PPL and Multi- engine rating, an instrument rating and a multi engine commercial rating. I will be commencing my CFI next semester and once completed I will be able to work for the college in order to gain hours. I will also be interning for various airlines in my summers so once i graduate I should be able to get a job. I dont see an ATP been any disadvantage to anyone… Read more »
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[…] to Watertown, Iowa South Dakota remaining. Why is this happening? According to Great Lakes, the recent pilot rule change that requires a minimum of 1,500 hours before being allowed to fly commerci… has created a real shortage that is hitting the airline […]

Cedarglen
Member
I said it earlier and I’ll say it again: Fifteen hundred hours for a newbie FO at a regional is too high. AND, the 250 mark (as a lot of foreign carrier do) is waaay too low. ATP (ATPL) cannot be had in the U.S. without some substantial hours, but how many can afford to ‘buy’ those hours? I do not know the right combination, but those junior FOs need some regular employment for build enough hours to achieve the ATP. Five hundred or 750 to start and then two years to obtain the ATP or out? I don’t know.… Read more »
Robert
Guest
More than 30 years ago, I had 1600 hours before I was hired into the right seat of a turboprop in scheduled regional service. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, there was very little hiring at the regulatory minimums. So, based on my own personal history (which was the norm back i the day), 1500 hours nowadays to get into the right seat of a Part 121 jet – and that 1500 hours can be all light piston time with negligible multi-engine time – is still minimal. I have an ATP, 3 jet type ratings, and thousands of hours. (I… Read more »
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