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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, 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. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

1500 Hour Rule...

Inducing a Pilot Shortage?

The question about the pilot shortage is still bouncing around the industry. Yes, there is a pilot shortage and it has already begun for the Regionals. The majors, however, will continue to suck up pilots from the Regionals, so for awhile they will have a surplus. Until they don't.

My friend and I are working on an idea to help make it more affordable to fly. However, today I was asked if I believed this 1500 hour requirement has made a difference in the pilot shortage.
Yes, of course it has! 

The Regionals are already hurting. But more than that, many of the pilots I talk to within the 400-500 hour range are giving up because they cannot figure out how to get the time. And others who would have flown, expressed concern as how to get time so they are choosing different careers. 

Not to be a conspiracy theorist... 
just plotting novels that seem to ring true.


The Big Picture: 

  • The FAA was originally chartered for airline economics.
  • Boeing and Airbus are currently designing planes without pilots.
  • Labor is a huge expense.

Now imagine an FAA mandate that exacerbates a pilot shortage because they make it that much harder to become a pilot. And because of this, one day we don't have enough pilots to fly our aircraft.  Imagine if when that time comes, Boeing and Airbus state, "But you only need half the pilots (or no pilots) because we have airplanes that just need monitoring! What great fortune that our technology is here to save the day!" 

Of course the FAA must approve the single (or no) pilot operation in the name of world economics. 

Planes must fly. 

How will the industry 
combat this induced pilot shortage? 

Make planes requiring fewer (or no) pilots. And how do we create a need for that single pilot, or no pilot aircraft? Create a pilot shortage! Timing will be the key on this one... but the wave of the future has begun. And because these automated aircraft are not yet ready to fly, the FAA is softening the blow with extending the age limits. Soon to be 67.

Reality is, either the FAA did not see the ripple effect of this 1500-hour rule, or they knew exactly what they were doing.

Has this 1500 rule impacted your desire to fly?
Hang in there... there are a few people working on their doctorates to come to your assistance! If you want to fly, begin now. Build those hours. Things will change. And if you haven't read this yet, please check out what I'm doing to be your voice in the future: One Wish for Aviation.

There is no better time than today 
to become a pilot!

Enjoy the Journey!


  1. I don't think this is a coordinated event to thin the pilot ranks because that would mean that someone in the Federal Government has a brain and can form a logical thought.

    I think this came from a few well meaning but short sighted congressmen and senators who reacted to another crash of a regional carrier.

    Now, I have no doubt that the airlines would love to turn the jets into drones but the paying public will have a lot to say about that. Also, ALPA will be instrumental in keeping pilots on the flight deck. None of this will happen in our careers though, next 20 years. I do think that eventually it will be something that will cause the industry some heartache, but I am not worried about being replaced by a remote operator.

    1. LOL!!! That's funny.

      Okay... ALPA needs help. They caved on FAR 117. Gave away crew rest facilities at a major airline. Sadly, they have lost sight of their core values.. safety. The Union beast needs to be redirected.

      The reality is, that since there are so few pilots the Regionals are taking those who "meet qualifications" ... But skill and ability be damned. How can they not? They need warm bodies, as I was recently told by the head of hiring at one of these airlines.

      Now...about droning us. We will be replaced. But not in our lifetime. Millions in development are headed that way. Pilots will test NEXTGEN to get the bugs out, before we go. Four pilots will go to three. Three to two. Two to one.

      The process will begin. But... that's the point of all I'm doing. I will be a voice to stop the chain. But we can only do so much. Interesting what is happening behind the scenes.
      Thanks for your comment!!

    2. I'm not sure about this "not in our lifetime". Long ago a combo of automation, tech, and our government, replaced the radio operator, navigator, and flight engineer. The military has replaced pilots altogether in some missions, and increasing that trend wherever they can find equipment and operators. The forest service, pipeline industry, and media are starting to use drones where they used to use manned aircraft. Where aircraft are still manned, they are less dependent on the pilots and more dependent on automation. This is not some future thing, it is now.

      DARPA's ALIAS program is huge and heavily funded, involves the biggest names in aerospace, and is one of the biggest projects going in aerospace. The stated goal is to replace pilots in existing multi-crew aircraft. Not future aircraft.

      The newest Boeings and Airbus are fully capable of being flown remotely, don't really need much extra automation, so what airplanes is DARPA targeting? They must be targeting our older Boeings and Airbus that will be obsolete before you hang up your winged spurs. Those planes will probably continue flying cargo, and that is where cockpits will see fewer pilots first. Cutting half the pilots from cargo aviation would be a huge reduction in pilot demand, the industry will be saved. Then we cut passenger pilots by one per flight.

      - Sherman Kensinga

  2. Of course if the regionals paid more then there would no shortage of pilots and. If embery riddle didn't charge such huge amounts of money to become a comerical pilot then maybe more people would become pilots. It all about the money

    1. Those are both excellent points!! And while ERAU students get the reduced flight hours. Not many can afford 250K for flight training. If you start earlier enough, you can pay it back in your career. Yet... who can afford that before they have a career? And yes, the Regionals need to pay more. The reason they exist were to save the mainline money to not run that operation themselves.
      Actually, flying at a regional is far more challenging that what I do at the legacy. How do we get them to realize they need to up those salaries?
      But this goes back to my point, if the airlines have an industry working to remove pilots, with FAA support, in the long run they won't need us. If we only knew what was going on behind the scenes, because it doesn't make sense with pay, and pricing pilots out of the game.... this 1500-hour rule has priced many pilots out of the game. Thanks for your comment!

  3. For those who sit in the 400-500 hour range and say it is too hard, I get a little irritated with them. I do not jump down their throat, but I will ask them what they want. Do they WANT to fly for a career? I ask if they want to spend a lot of time away from home, not make much money for a while (I have been an airline pilot for 3 1/2 years, now flying an A320 and I still qualify for low income housing...rather frustrating)...and are they willing to live out the worst case scenario? Which I think is right seat at a regional for 7 years, another 3-4 as a CA after that....once at a major to sit another 5-6 years on reserve and 10+ as an FO....

    I tell them to think hard about it, to put themselves in those shoes where you don't get what you want. But to do that you get the ability to fly good equipment in the best environment you can (I listen to corporate friends talk about how they operate and its amazing to me there are not more accidents). Not to mention the ability to travel the world for free. For flying the schedule is good...and the reward in my opinion to take people where they want to go safely is unmatched.

    If these 400-500 hour pilots tell me that is what they want, my response is to stop bitching about having to WORK (lets face it, the generation thats at this point wants everything RIGHT NOW and isn't interested in putting in time and hard work for it!)

    I remind people that it wasn't that long ago that you had to have THOUSANDS of hours to get looked at by a REGIONAL!

    I did 1,040 hours of instructing in 2 years and 2 months. I worked hard to do that. It can be done.

    My concern is to spark interest with those in elementary and middle school now. How do we get kids interested in flying?! Just to like flying, not so much as a career, just to say "thats pretty cool..."

    As far as single pilot...I believe this will come down to pilots allowing it to happen. I won't ever do it. I will find something else to do before I fly single pilot....but seeing how pilots love to under cut each other (PSA is a great example of this) I think it will in fact one day happen, but it will be BECAUSE of pilots.


Thank you for your comment! If your comment doesn't appear immediately, it will after I land. Enjoy the journey!