Posted by Jeffrey on November 14th, 2012
Future airline pilots have a new rule (FAA Aviation Safety Act of 2010) to contend with and the clock is ticking as to when it goes into effect. Today, I’m posting a letter from a fellow pilot friend of mine, Nick Nightly, Dream Pilot Jobs, that discusses the new rule and its impact on you. But the great thing is, he gives you ideas and options for making the most of you time building so that you get into the right seat of that airplane as quickly and inexpensively as possible.
So take it away Nick…
If you are a future professional pilot or building your flight hours toward your Dream Job that sleek airline cockpit, you are probably aware by now of the new “FAA Aviation Safety Act of 2010,” which requires airlines to hire pilots with Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) minimums (23 years old, 1500 hours of flight time, and pass the written/flight exam).
In short, this new rule – which takes effect August 1, 2013 – will require pilots-in-training to gain more flight time than was previously necessary before landing their first airline job.
Dubbed “The 1500 Hour Rule,” it’s a hot topic at the flight school water coolers because this new legislature at first seems discouraging for those “low timers” that now may have an additional year or so of “time building” to accomplish after flight school.
But for every problem, there is a solution!
This article is going to show you some ways to gain those hours, and some loopholes that reduce the required flight time mandated by the FAA.
While this may seem like a setback at first glance, there are a few loopholes within the new law that few flight instructors are mentioning (or aware of) – that will help pilots seeking their first job at an airline to reduce the required flight time.
The FAA stated in the final revision of the Aviation Safety Act of 2010 that pilots could receive a “restricted” ATP through two different methods.
1. The first method is for pilot candidates to complete an aviation baccalaureate degree and flight program through an approved university. This method will require pilots to have completed their instrument and commercial rating through the same university flight program as well as have 1,000 hours of flight time. By meeting those requirements, pilots will be able to take the ATP exams and receive the restricted ATP making them qualified to act as co-pilot.
2. The second method for pilots seeking an ATP is to join the military and gain 750 hours of flight time. Applicants meeting the above requirement will be able to apply for a restricted ATP allowing them to operate as a co-pilot in an airliner. Worth noting is that applicants in both scenarios will be unable to operate as the captain (PIC) until they have 1,000 hours as a pilot in air carrier operations. This rule applies only to airlines who require an ATP to act as pilot in command (PIC).
Pilots who are completing their training through a local FBO should not feel left out since there are many different ways to acquire the mandatory 1500 hour rule. The first way, which I highly recommend, and by far the most valued by subsequent employers – is to work as a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). I can attest that my time as a CFI was invaluable to the success I enjoy today. This is probably the most common method but it does serve a very important purpose. Here is why:
First, flight instructors have the ability to build flight time VERY quickly at a good flight school (in many cases FASTER than CFIs working at the Universities.)
Second, flight instructors are also able to reinforce everything they had learned during their flight training by teaching it. This is a point that shouldn’t be understated because most people learn better by teaching rather than memorizing.
Finally, flight instructors are able to further develop their stick and rudder skills. Students will inevitably make a mistake which the flight instructor must know how to correct through solid airmanship.
(And another hot topic – brought on by the increasing amount of automation inside Technically Advanced Aircraft cockpits – is that the pilot must still be able to FLY-THE-PLANE if all the computers fail! Those 1500 hours of “real flying” is something to be proud of!)
In addition to flight instructing student pilots should look into splitting flight time. Many pilots have built hours by splitting flight time with another qualified pilot. This option comes with a few strings that must be adhered to unless the pilots wish to find themselves explaining their actions to the FAA or potential employer. When two pilots share a plane with the intention of building flight time, they must either be flying under a hood with a safety pilot or be receiving instruction. It is legal for both pilots to log flight time as long as one is flying under the hood while the other is acting as the safety pilot. This method is also legal if one pilot is instructing the other pilot throughout the flight; hence another reason to become a CFI.
As long as one of these are being utilized, both pilots may log the flight time legally. Also, make sure you completely understand this rule before you starting building time and writing it in your logbook.
Another way to build the required hours would be to find a job flying pipeline patrol, traffic watch, ferry flights, or even skydivers. All of these are great methods to build the required 1500 hours because they all but guarantee hours – and pay! On top of the two obvious benefits, pilots will be able to gain valuable experience that looks very good when applying for an airline job. These jobs can be hard to find at times, but they are available and very valuable to the right candidate.
No matter what stage you are in with your flight training it is important to keep focused on solutions. The 1500 hour rule is “bump-in-the-road” for low time pilots seeking a career in the airlines, but it doesn’t mean that the hurdle isn’t easily overcome. There are loopholes and alternatives available to pilots who need additional hours. It is also important to note that pilots seeking a job outside of the airlines will not be faced with this rule. There are many different paths that can lead to a long career in aviation which should be thoroughly explored by any pilot no matter what their experience may be.
A career as a charter or corporate pilot in business aviation can be just as rewarding, and offer a different lifestyle and work environment. Also, there are other jobs that aren’t your typical flying jobs, like flying in a foreign country. The most important thing any pilot can do is to constantly work on improving themselves and their abilities. If pilots focus on that, then they will inevitably open doors to better opportunities.
About the author: Nick Knightly is a fellow pilot and pilot career expert. Sign up to receive Nick’s free Pilot Career Insider eLetter and learn the latest pilot jobs strategies and techniques to building a successful pilot career and lifestyle.
Thanks Nick! Well there you have it. Now it’s up to you to make it happen.
A few quick notes. I’m not a big fan of “aviation universities.” They are EXPENSIVE and will keep you in debt for many years to come. But, if you are deadset on going to one of these universities, do you yourself a huge a favor and get your degree in something other than aviation (marketing, computer science, entrepreneurship, etc.). You need to have something to fall back on if the aviation career doesn’t work out.
As for the military option, I tried to go the military route a long time ago but it didn’t work out for me. For the aspiring pilot of today, it is still an option but what I would say is study hard in high school and get a high grade point average and a respectably high SAT score, then get your bachelor’s degree in something other than aviation. Do the first two years at a community college to get the hours and save yourself a lot of money, then transfer to the university you want to go to. (Keep an eye out for scholarships and grants. You will be surprise what is out there.) In your junior year at college, visit a military recruiter and discuss your options then plan accordingly. I went the enlisted route and let the military pay for my bachelor’s degree and eventually my pilot ratings and certificates using the GI Bill. Not a bad deal. Being a military pilot is very competitive though, so you have to plan now.
Finally, I totally agree with Nick on the CFI thing. I’ve written a lot of articles about it but don’t stop at the initial CFI. Get your CFI-I and MEI. You will be glad you did. If you want to become a pilot, now may be the best time ever to become one.
To Your Flying Success,
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