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Aviation Panel Recommends Changes to 1,500-Hour Requirement

top story photo The FAA this week unveiled an Aviation Rulemaking Committee's long-awaited recommendations to modify the 1,500-hour training requirement for first officers. The 88-page report comes after two separate panels of aviation stakeholders proposed similar recommendations to create alternative pathways for prospective pilots.

AAAE has been urging Congress and the Administration to consider alternative pathways to meeting the stringent 1,500-hour requirement in an effort to enhance safety and address the pilot shortage, which is adversely impacting commercial air service to small- and medium-sized communities. This report may help bolster efforts to address the pilot shortage on Capitol Hill.

The latest recommendations to modify the 1,500-hour rule come from the FAA's Air Carrier Training Advisory Rulemaking Committee. The ARC is recommending two separate approaches for pilots seeking a restricted Airline Transport Pilot certificate. One would give candidates a uniform 250-hour credit for completing an "air carrier enhanced qualification program."

This plan would reduce the flight time hour requirement for military pilots from 750 hours to 500; for pilots with a bachelor's degree from 1,000 hours to 750; and for pilots with an associate's degree from 1,250 hours to 1,000. The Air Line Pilots Association, which has resisted efforts to create alternative pathways to help pilots meet the 1,500-hour requirement, endorsed the recommendation.

The ARC also came up with a more aggressive recommendation to give pilots different levels of credit for completing an air carrier-sponsored training course. This so-called "variable credit" approach would reduce the requirement for military pilots from 750 to 500; for pilots with a bachelor's degree from 1,000 hours to 500; and for pilots with an associate's degree from 1,200 hours to 500.

The Regional Airline Association, Airlines for America, Delta Airlines, and other aviation stakeholders on the ARC supported this plan. Proponents argue that pilots with less experience would have more to gain from an air carrier-sponsored training course and should be awarded more credit hours. The Air Line Pilots Association and the Airline Dispatchers Federation have expressed opposition to this recommendation.

There is more information available to AAAE Federal Affairs members.

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