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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.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

1500-Hour Rule

Thought for the Day... 

Last week I wrote a post about the 1500- hour rule to get people thinking about how change is often followed by the law of unintended consequences. And while it would appear that more flight hours makes a better pilot... what appears like a great solution on the surface, may just have more problems than we expected.

Prior to the 1500-hour rule, let's say an airline needed 10 pilots and they had a 1000 pilots to choose from. They had the ability to create a selection processes the took the best applicants. Those that did not have a DUI, no failures, aptitude, motivation, dedication, and exceptional decision making skills. 

Total flight time has nothing to do with being a good pilot.

Now that airline must reduce that selection process to taking 10 warm body that meets the 1500-hour rule. Are they the best? Are they free from the DUI, had no failures, and have aptitude, motivation, dedication, and decision making skills?

Are these airlines able to select the best pilots, or are they forced to take those applicants who  meet the new rules? 

We have the ability to test pilot applicant aptitude!
We have the ability to test pilot applicants skills!

Why don't we use that as our guidance?
Why do we care about an arbitrary number in their logbook if the applicant can perform?

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene


  1. At the risk of losing my head, I'm going to stick my neck out here with a wholly incomplete statement. I'll fill in the blanks in a few days. First, the 1500 hour rule is, IMO, a colossal, almost silly overkill. Second, as some nations and national flag carriers still do, admitting a 250-hour novice pilot to jet training, often Very Big Jet training, is equally as silly. There is No Magic Number. All of the criteria mentioned are important to one degree or another. Fifteen hundred hours really is overkill for some applicants, not insufficient for for others. Can the hiring managers tell the difference. Even more strongly, I suggest that beginning Jet Transition training at 250-260 hours total time (and perhaps all of 21 or 22 years old) and flying as an independent FO someplace near the 300 hour mark simple scares me to death. Some nations/cultures/airlines still practice that education cycle with their best cadets.
    The pilot community constantly reminds us that the man/woman in the right seat is absolutely not an assistant, fut a fully qualified pilot and entirely able to operate the airplane alone, should the captain become incapacitated for any reason. Emergency or not, do you want to fly on a full, 300+ seat airplane with only a ~301-hour total time right-seat pilot pilot with perhaps <25 live hours on type, driving alone? I agree that the odds of that occurring are extremely small, but **It Is Possible.** I do not want to be on that airplane! I'll flesh this out a bit in the next few days. For the moment, I agree that the 1500-hour rule is simply silly. I am also more than certain that migrating to Big Jet training with only 251 hours total time is even worse than silly. We've all read the crash investigation reports and we have done the math; some countries and airlines DO migrate cadet pilots from basic training to Big Jet operations at or near the 250 hour mark.
    I am darn sure not arguing with you, Karlene (I'd never do that simply 'cause you are too nice and much smarter...) Total hours of flying time should become one of several *guidelines,* almost never an absolute requirement. Another, simple way to put it is that our Congress **Really Screwed Up,** enacting rules by law that a re far better dealt with as regulations, issued by the FAA. Can you see the steam issuing from my ears? While the FAA does not always get it right, I guess they know just a tiny bit more about safe flying than does our Congress.
    For what it is worth, other than safety, I have no horse in this race; I own no airline stock and I've already 'timed-out' of any potential career as pilot for a Part 121 carrier. My objectives remain: 1) Safety, 2) a truly fair package for the pilots (especially or specifically the men and women who have been merged) and 3) keeping our air carriers as safe as possible. More in a few days, I hope.
    -Craig (of Cedarglen, and fried. You have my email address if you need it)

    1. Craig, Thank you so much for the great response! Honestly, I would rather be flying with a pilot with 250 hours who understands and can follow procedures on the A330, than with any 10,000 or 20,000 hour pilot who is attempting to carry themselves through life with experience from the Boeing and the good ole days.

      While experience is great for environment.... they've flown to Paris and can understand the controllers and know airport operations... controllers rarely provide accurate ICAO clearances... but for flying the "Automated" Plane, give me the guy who understands it any day. I just flew with a great captain with tons of experience and knows the plane too... Excellent combination.

      And experience comes from doing. The pilot who is flying their 172 around the flagpole to gain hours, is not gaining experience that will port over to the airline world.

      Understanding is the key to success in our new world... and will be more so in the world of aviation.

      There are tests to access cognitive abilities, and machines that will assess flying ability (simulators). We have the technology to select the best pilots, more so that the 1500 hour metric.

      And always Craig, you can debate with me anytime. I will always respect and appreciate you, as you are a critical thinker and that's what we need in the world!

      Speaking of which, perhaps those youngsters that have aptitude and ability, without experience... we stick them in a jumpseat for a month in the environment to watch and learn. Make them write a critical paper on lessons learned on the experience. Thus, they have more from observation and they know how to think, and manage the plane... I'm just saying they would be much better than the mandated hours.

      By the way, those old time pilots with all that experience started with 200 hours, and they were thrown out in the system without the support we have today.

      Thank you so much for your comment.
      ALWAYS appreciated!!


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