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Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

1500 Hour Rule

What Do YOU Think? 

Martin Knife, is a student attending Sinclair Community College to get an Associates in Professional Piloting/ Airway Science, with plans to transfer to University of Dayton in a few years, to get a Bachelors in Business Administration. 

He is writing a paper for one of his aviation classes about the FAA's new 1500 Hour Rule. Martin is looking for opinions on the issue. 


Is it necessary? 

Is it a good rule? 

Will it accomplish anything? 


Tell us what you think. And if you would please leave your name and profession in the comment, in the event he would like to quote you, that would be beneficial. I'll be posting my thoughts soon, too. 

Thank you!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

28 comments:

  1. Hi Martin,
    I'm a 35 year ATP 737 Captain for a major, ex-USAF F16 pilot, and I fly airshows in my Harvard Mk IV and the P-51. Coming up on 13,000 hours; ATP (DC-3, DC-9, B737), CFIIMEI, AGI, A&P.

    In short, it's a crock. Colgan was a fly-by night airline when I learned to fly in Virginia in 1978. The POI had pointed out major discrepancies in their training department and, because Chuck Colgan is friends with Sen. Charles Robb (D-VA), was told to shut up and color between the lines. When he didn't he was put on Admin Leave for two years.
    All this happened BEFORE the accident.
    Both the crew of the -8 had over 1500 hours, so this rule wouldn't have changed the outcome. It was merely a knee-jerk by a bunch of elected officials to look like they were doing something instead of making sure the FAA properly did it's job.
    This is not the only case. One airline actually had the Principle Operating Inspector married to the VP of Operations of the airline she was inspecting; the FAA didn't see that as conflict of interest.
    Do some research, you'll have to dig hard, but its out there.
    Good luck.

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    1. Fascinating history on this. Thank you so much for your comment! You're absolutely right... Nothing would have changed.

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  2. Karlene,

    My issue with this is the same as John's - this law will fix nothing. If you look deep into the actual regulations, there are some restrictions that don't even make sense. For example, in order to be a 121 captain you have to have 1000 hours of 121 time. However if you flew the exact same airplane (Dash-8 for example) for a part 135 company, the time doesn't count towards it. This 1500 hour rule will make it hard for pilots to get into the jobs they need to build quality flight time (and safe experience building vs. part 135 VFR scud running). I have a friend who is a check airman for a regional airline. He told me that prior to the rule they had a very high pass rate in initial new-hire training. A lot of the 700 hour flight instructors were very good candidates that were eager to learn and do well with automation and such. However since the rule change, he said they have had trouble finding pilots and the new-hire failure rate has skyrocketed because they are having to hire people who may have 1500 hours but are less qualified in many other regards. Just my take, but I don't think it improves safety, and I don't see the rule changing anytime soon.

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    1. Daniel, this is so true about creating a blanket rule. They don't allow for the exceptions. This is a huge hit to the regional carriers, and not the safest answer to the problem. Heck, it's not even an answer. Thanks so much for your comment!

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  3. I agree with John. This new rule is window-dressing to make the FAA look to the general public as if it was doing something worthwhile. But the rule would have had zero impact on the Colgan Air crash, as both pilot's would have been qualified under it. The same goes for other accidents caused by rusty basic stick-and-rudder skills due to over reliance on automation. Yesterday's Russian crash sounds like it might fall into the same category (departure stall during go-around).

    The root cause of the Colgan air crash was poor airmanship, made worse by lack or rest, illness and possibly basic incompetence on behalf of the captain. One area never brought up - the "time-in chair" basis used for promotion at airlines, which doesn't take into account basic ability and wouldn't be permitted in any other industry, where achievement, ability and competence are what count. The union won't want to hear that.

    What the FAA should have done is a review of promotion criteria, pay and rest rules, and pay when unable to fly due to illness. The co-pilot was sick and tired, largely thanks to her inability to rest anywhere close to the job, and the captain was a poor pilot promoted due to time-in-seat when he should have been still a FO.

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    1. Absolutely!! You could not have said it better. There is more to the problem than total time. But they needed something to hang a solution on. A shame too. Because this is what they needed to dig into the rest and training issues. Thank you so much for your comment!

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  4. It's making it very hard for my fiancé to get a flying job, and it took away several agreements between our school, Embry-Riddle, and several airlines to send them graduating students with a few hundred hours to be trained at their academies. It's based on the FAA purely trying to make it look like they're solving a problem, even though the Colgan Air crash it was based on had nothing to do with time.

    It passed because the public wants to believe our pilots are dangerous and inexperienced, our planes old and broken, and our airlines entirely out to get them and ruin their travel plans. Poor reporting and scare tactics make the problem LOOK like a lack of flight hours, so increasing the requirements makes it LOOK like effective change is being made, but those in the aviation industry know it doesn't solve the real problems: fatigue, training, etc.

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    1. Christine, what is your airline doing? Are they changing their curriculum to let the students leave with required hours? Yes... completely to pacify the public. Thank you so much for your comment!

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  5. This is a really good question...

    After talking with people ranging from 777 Captains to Deans of major aviation universities, I've come to discover that the 1,500 hour rule is a superficial requirement that has been placed upon pilots by people in Washington that don't truly understand how aviation training works.

    It's NOT about the amount of hours being flown, its about the quality of the hours spent in the air. Its all about doing the right kind of flying. Building 1,500 hours in, often automated, aircraft is going to do nothing but produce pilots that might make the same mistakes as the pilots that flew aboard Air France Flight 447. They won't know how to properly handle the aircraft in a situation where split-second, decisions are required from muscle memory.

    I'm concerned that people are going to begin building 1,500 hours in ways that will not do any good to them, or their safety skills. Not only that, but this is going to cost student pilots up to 3 times as much to get into the airline jobs, compared to what it was just a few months ago.

    Glad that certain Part 141 schools are able to have "reduced minimums," due to their training being incredibly thorough.

    Thanks for posting this Karlene, hope this helps some,

    -Swayne Martin, Student Pilot
    Writer on From Private to Professional Pilot: http://martinsaviation.blogspot.com/

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    1. Swayne, you are so right. The sad thing with this requirement is that students with money will rent planes, or dad will buy one, and they will get their 1500 hours on the autopilot. Not quality flight hours. We know that 1 hour 1500 times does not equate to 1500 hours of experience. Thank you so much for your comment!

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  6. In aviation, flight time tends to weed the unqualified (not 100% but pretty efficiently). There is a saying in aviation:" You start with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill up the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck." Sorry but as a paying passenger, I prefer a pilot that is not still working on his or her bag of luck. With several thousands hours of flight time, I know I'm safer pilot today than I was at 200, 400, or 800 hours. NTSB statistics demonstrates that as well. This being said, because the new law has a flight time requirement exception for people going through expensive aviation training colleges, I don't think it will achieve its intended goals as that negates the initial statement "experience makes pilots safer".

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    1. You've got a great point on perception of total time. But the reality is it's the quality of time. If a pilot flew one hour... 1500 times, he really doesn't have 1500 hours of experience. But one hour...1500 times. In this industry we see the good and the bad, and those that have an aptitude. I would put my family on a 500 hour pilots plane with aptitude and common sense than on that 5000 hour pilot plane that is sloppy, and careless. This is something that the airline hiring committees should determine. There is so much to the human factor and the type of hours.
      Thank you so much for your comment! I know it will go to good use.

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  7. Alow me to say,"However since the rule change, he said they have had trouble finding pilots" it only seems logical to think, if the change is causing such wide shortages for quality pilots, then simply do away with the change!

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    1. It will be interesting to see how long the rule holds.

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  8. A difficult question. While 1500 is probably overkill, let's please don't emulate some foreign carriers that accept 125-250 hour pilots and put them through a quick 'jet school.' (Shake and Bake Airplane Pilots.) I don't know the magic number and I believe that the nature of the hours is far more important than their number. Fifteen hundred is too high and 250 is too low.
    (-Retired healthcare with 600+ hours in a log book, but not current for 30+ years.) -C.

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    1. Excellent comment. I had this discussion the other day. I decided that I would not mind having a 250 hour first officer, "if" I was guaranteed they were paired up flying with experience. And yet...not any 250 pilot. They have to be competent. But the problem is..the law of average... they will be paired with another inexperienced. Then we have a potential problem.

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  9. Hi Martin,
    As a retired A330 Captain, Check Airman, Aircrew Program Designee (APD), and US Navy pilot, I agree to all of the above comments except the one that says more flight hours equals a safer pilot. That seems to make sense, however, a case can be made that it is quite possible that someone could get commercial/instrument ratings and never fly IMC again and never get more than 100 miles from their home base while attaining 15500 hours. That is not a more qualified pilot.
    I can also make a case that the new law makes the skies more unsafe. Who can afford the training and/or time spent as a CFI to attain 1500 hours just get a shot at a job at a Regional Airline that pays $15-20K per year? One possible answer is the rich kid who has never had to work for anything in his/her life. He/she doesn't have to work at being a better pilot because he/she will awarded a seat at an airline because there will be a severe pilot shortage due to the 1500 hour rule. That pilot is more unsafe than the person who is striving to be the best pilot possible so that he/she can get hired with 400-500 hours.
    The law will be found to be as John stated, a crock. It will be rewritten.

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    1. Roger, Thank you so much for your comment. Yes...this law should and hopefully be rewritten. Those kids you speak of will own their planes and acquire those hours on the autopilot. Then Darby will have to fly with them and beat them over the head with her flashlight.
      Maybe this will be a rule I can help to rewrite. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  10. Personally I had way more than 1500 hrs before I started burning kerosene so it wouldn't have affected my trajectory.

    And no I don't think it makes a material safety difference.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Buddah! I don't think it does either.

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  11. Karlene, I'm actually working on a blog post on the subject. It isn't quite ready, but tell him to contact me and I'll give him an advanced copy when it's done. Might be useful. For what it's worth, my opinions are in line with those above.

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    1. Thank you so much!!! Email me and I'll forward your information to him. I know he would appreciate it!

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  12. My gut reaction to the new rule was negative, but I haven't flown in 30 years, and I was never commercial, much less ATP, so I wondered about my own conclusion. Glad to see my opinion agreed with the vast majority of your responders.

    Just getting an ATP is such an expensive proposition, I've wondered for years how anyone does it. Then to limit that's pilot's work opportunities until he has 1500 hours seems an unfair burden. And as several of your readers pointed out, hours alone don't guarantee a superior pilot.

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    1. David, your gut was right on. Amazing how everyone knows this...and yet it came to fruition. Perhaps they just needed to draw the line in the sand. Thank you so much for your comment!

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  13. I agree with it to an extent.

    It is a complex subject. It involves the government resources and human resources.

    What the government think (presumably):
    1.500 hours is enough for initial experience - and that's all.

    Ethically:
    1.500 hours may not mean experience. A 500 hours pilot flown in all kinds of adverse weather may have more experience than a "sunny-calm wind" 1.500 hours pilot.

    My opinion:
    To become well-trained pilots nowadays, we must have money, but above all, discipline. You cannot depend solely on the instructor (because he may not be a great messenger, he can compete with you, or he only knows how to lift it from the ground and land). You must study by your own means too. Seek for more information. Plus, you must open hand of your ego and let others teach you (maybe you don't know how to listen).

    In conjunction, instructors may use their best efforts to teach each student. Understand them and create new lecture "assets" adequately to each student. Instructors must remember they are students too. They learn from their students and they must keep seeking for more knowledge. Be always professional. So being professional is also being political. You can become friends with your student after each lecture. Maybe separate "professional" from "personal". Not that there is a problem, but just saying. Some may disagree with me.

    Government-wise, should the aviation authorities create special programs for financing your flight hours. But I think I have said before, institutions must become more trustful too. If education in aviation isn't the priority for the government, maybe privatizing those institutions will work. Or attract stakeholders. I mean, seriously, economy and aviation are mother and child.

    In the end, we must keep fighting for our rights in this unfair industry. But if you cannot pay for your son to become a pilot at first, it is wise not to force your bank account. Your child may be able to become a pilot in his future. But each case has its particular reasons, so I want to mean generally.

    It is a mixture of self-discipline with politics. Or almost that.

    But yes, it is possible to make those hours count as "initial wisdom hours". If mother nature does not offer many adventures for you in your country, maybe sucking your books is a great idea. At least you are preparing yourself!

    Becoming a flight instructor is obviously a great idea. Many students still think in the contrary, but at one moment you will need to earn some money AND flight hours! You won't get the job easily though!

    Open mind. Open politics. Open solutions. Take down unnecessary elements (personally and professionally).

    Anyways, I might have missed some points because it caught me surprisingly.


    ALX

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    1. Alex, Excellent comment. And the flight instructor gig teaches so much! And you can get paid for flying too. Thank you for the comment!

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  14. I have thoroughly enjoyed the posts in this thread on a very controversial subject. Many responders have touched on the quality of training. I would like to comment on a particular aspect of pilot training relative to the Colgan 3407 that was the catalyst for the 1,500 hour rule.
    The causal factor attributed to this accident was Loss of Control In-Flight (LOC-I), not lack of flying time. LOC-I is currently the leading cause of aviation fatalities in both worldwide commercial aviation and general aviation. While all commenters are aware of the 1,500 rule which has made it into the mainstream (non-aviation) press, very few are probably aware of the new mandate for Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT). Beginning in August of this year (2014), every candidate for the ATP will be required to have academics covering UPRT as well as training in a flight simulator.
    At the ICAO level, there is a coming recommendation for UPRT prior to receiving a Commercial Pilot License and during Type Rating training. A Manual on Aeroplane UPRT has been completed by ICAO and should be released soon.
    Unlike 1,500 hours of unfocused flight time, targeted training on avoiding and recovering airplane upsets and undesired aircraft states could have kept this tragedy from ever occurring in the first place.
    Randall Brooks, APS VP Training and Business Development, Aviation Performance Solutions

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    1. Randall, Thank you for the great comment. The interesting thing was, when I first began my jet airliner training...we actually did upset training. I'm not sure when they stopped doing that. I suspect around the time they mandated all checkrides to be conducted on automation.

      I think you should email me. We need to talk and make you a Friday Flyer... and talk about training solutions.

      Thank you for the great comment!

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