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The Unintended Consequences of the “1500 Hour Rule”

The FAA recently raised minimum flight hour requirements for commercial pilots to 1,500 hours. Brad Tate explores whether this stricter hiring requirement truly benefits flight safety. ( More...

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nick sabardin 4
We all like to think that we are good pilots. We also sometimes meet others that we think are shit. Do they think they are shit? Of course not.
I remember a survey asking drivers to rank their driving skill. The greater majority thought they were above average. I bet a survey amongst pilots would reflect the same.
The truth is that, regardless of where their training came from, you will find good and bad pilots. Total time doesn't change that. If the air force can put a kid in a fighter jet after just a few hundred hours, it has to say a lot about hours versus skills.

No, the "unintended consequence", Brad Tate, is not that of the 1500hr rule. It is a simpler and more cynical one:
It's a $$$ rule driven by supply and demand.

When legacy carriers can afford to pick the bests, regionals can't. They need pilots that will accept minimum wages and a crappy lifestyle. So they also hire weak pilots then ask the training departments to get them through with additional sim and line training.
I flew with guys with over 10.000 hours that I felt were unsafe. Did the training department think so? Sure they did and indicated so on report cards as below average handling or decision making skills, but too often that pilot was allowed to continue flying or, if fired, would go find another flying job somewhere desperate for hours.

Look at NTSB reports, how often do you read that the crew involved in a "pilot error" accident had performed consistently below average in training?

I foresee that this new FAA rule will make flying more unsafe by "forcing" regionals to hire higher time pilots that have a record of poor performance just because they meet the hours requirement.
PhotoFinish 1
Even though he may not have worded it this way, preacher would probably agree with this.

The flip side is that the increase hour requirement (while in itself not indicative of better performance) will likely require regionals to increase start pay and/or add signing bonuses. These will have the effect of increasing the supply of pilots. Maybe that way, the regionals will have better selection of pilots to pick from when hiring.

That could also be achieved by increasing start pay, without the huge hour requirement, and by getting rid of pilots who early on are consistently not performing as well as their peers.

Hire pilots with fewer hours, but consistently get rid of the bottom 10%. Every captain during the first 2 years of a new pilot's career should fill out a quick 5-minute evaluation, plus a few words on what to do to improve. Those who haven't improved should find another line of work anyway.

Every flight every day would contribute toward a pilot's official record. Rather than a single check ride at infrequent intervals carrying so much weight (possibly causing some performance anxiety), a pilot's continuous record as well as the pilot's ability to learn from their captains' suggestions for improved performance would bea better measure of their ability to consistently pilot a passenger aircraft. The training department would have the responsibility to review the evaluations and schedule themselves to ride with those needing help more often to help them integrate the other captains' suggestions or to suggest that they move on if they can't seem to 'get it'.

*** [I don't really like all the reports of experienced pilots that are happy to just get through flights with first officers who are unfit to be in command of a passenger airplane, but then hesitate to fill out a career ending report.]

Shouldn't be optional. Every flight. Every day. A bunch of 'on a scale if 1 to 5' questions (not many questions unless real problems arise) plus the option to write a few words on what needs improving.

The knowledge that feedback will be coming anyway, might motivate a captain to be more communicative about performance, and professional development, both in-flight and afterwards.

Anyway, all of this feedback will either help pilots become much better pilots or will facilitate their moving on sooner (before the crash).
...will be following the comments on this, and the actual article, with great interest.
John Shanahan 2
The outright arrogance of this article is astounding.
John Shanahan 5
Up Yours Brad Tate, your blatant contempt for pilots who didn't go to the holy ordained aviation universities is disgusting. I've flown with several Embry Riddle "super pilots" who couldn't fly themselves out of a paper bag, get over yourself
Tim Duggan 1
I agree to a great extent. A "broad brush" cannot be used to cover every case of a graduate of "Embryo Ridicule" ... since I do know one fella that I flew with many times (he was my F/O) who is a very good pilot...and he learned at Riddle. Maybe he was an exception, though...
ccthorp 2
“I’ve never flown through a cloud. Can’t we fly though it?” WOW!!!
Tim Duggan 1
Yeah, that claim in the editorial narrative stuck out at me like a sore thumb. It sounds completely made up. The entire scenario, as written, is just not believable.
Musketeer1 3
I went to UND (Love how Riddle always gets mentioned when we're always the ones spanking 'em; perhaps we need to charge more to make headlines). I loved my education and time there; so I'm not hating on 4 year aviation degrees. I only wish I had an airline pilot daddy to pay for everything like most of my classmates!

That being said, it doesn't matter where you go to learn, it only matters who you are and how much you have a desire to learn. Everything UND/Riddle teaches can be found online for free.

I would say it's about 25/75 mix of knowledge/education that makes a decent pilot.

If the Regionals want pilots, raise the freakin' pay. Don't give me crap about there aren't any pilots to choose from, we are out here in large numbers, we just aren't idiots willing to work for free. Hell, I'd go to the Regionals if I could get me some of that McDonald's manager level cheese.
Musketeer1 5
CloudSurfer89 3
Agree - I see top talent doing everything they can to avoid the Regionals. Until they become competitive the'll get what they pay for.

[This poster has been suspended.]

Pileits 2
Freight Dogs know how to do it the dark as well.
PhotoFinish 1
I hope the lack of sleeping (real sleeping) during the rest periods doesn't add to pilot fatigue while flying later that night.


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