Thursday, October 15, 2009
Perfect Storm ahead for a Pilot Shortage ? HR 3371
Maybe this "pilot shortage" will actually happen....and it could get VERY ugly.
HR 3371 (AKA Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009) passed today. This bill is incredibly long (I've tried reading through it....haven't finished yet). One of the key provisions is this:
SEC. 10. FLIGHT CREWMEMBER SCREENING AND QUALIFICATIONS.
(1) RULEMAKING PROCEEDING- The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall conduct a rulemaking proceeding to require part 121 air carriers to develop and implement means and methods for ensuring that flight crewmembers have proper qualifications and experience.
(2) MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS-
(A) PROSPECTIVE FLIGHT CREWMEMBERS- Rules issued under paragraph (1) shall ensure that prospective flight crewmembers undergo comprehensive pre-employment screening, including an assessment of the skills, aptitudes, airmanship, and suitability of each applicant for a position as a flight crewmember in terms of functioning effectively in the air carrier’s operational environment.
(B) ALL FLIGHT CREWMEMBERS- Rules issued under paragraph (1) shall ensure that, after the date that is 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, all flight crewmembers--
(i) have obtained an airline transport pilot certificate under part 61 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations; and
(ii) have appropriate multi-engine aircraft flight experience, as determined by the Administrator.
The days of having just a commercial multi-engine rating will soon be gone....3 years if the bill goes into full effect.
Those who have been following my blog for some time (this blog started October 2007 before being relaunched February 2009) know I was hired with 560 hours total time including 420 hours multi-engine and nearly 300 hours of dual given. Not a lot. As of now I have almost 3 times that flight time.
The requirement of ALL pilots flying in 121 Air Carrier (scheduled airline service) to have an ATP is going to have a devastating effect on finding qualified pilots.
Flight time cost money. If a pilot were to pay his own way it would cost over $100,000 for that much flight time. It could be done for less if the pilot split the time with another pilot, still a lot of money.
Most pilots get paid while building flight time. A pilot is eligible to get paid to fly after earning a commercial rating. After getting a commercial rating a pilot can earn a CFI rating and use it to build flight time. Building time as a CFI is cheap (ATP actually pays CFI's more than most regional airlines do during their first year!) and if you have the right attitude, fun. I love it.
It took me 4 month's to amass 300 hours of flight time while instructing as a CFI. That was with me working nearly everyday. The time from guy on the street to regional airline pilot will soon be at least 18 months...most likely 24 months.
The perfect storm is on the horizon. The bar to enter an airline cockpit has been raised very high, the training to get over that bar is still very expensive and the pay after entering the cockpit is terrbily low. If I were just now thinking about going from the cubicle to the cockpit....I just might have to pass.
Below you will see a new comment system. PLEASE try it out and let me know of any issues. I spent several hours trying to get a decent system working with Facebook connect and more. I'm a hardware and software troubleshooting geek....no a software coder/designer. Getting this far required more software coding than I liked.
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Unfortunately I am one of the people that may be affected by this bill if it truly comes into law. I am however with a slight advantage as I am also enrolled and will be receiving a college degree from an accredited university along with my flight certificates. How it seems to me is people have tried to grasp on to some flashing light cause of this crash (Colgan) and immediately they grab on to that the pilots must have been inexperienced. They think they are going to solve all the problems with pilots by making a pilot putter around in a crop duster, banner tower, renting a 152 and shooting to the same three airports until they build their 1500hrs flying time. I left out flight instruction because although flight instruction is a very good way to build time there are only so many slots to be filled and once they are filled some people may choose a different path in life as what is the point in sinking in the money if you can't do what you want or doing it takes years and years. Not that I am saying that building time in the mentioned ways is bad but I believe that consideration really needs to be taken into the quality of the flight time and not just the already established quantity of 1500hrs and an ATP. ThanksReplyDelete
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Interesting. Especially your choice of descriptors ... the "ugly" aspect. Pilots (especially for regional (second tier) airlines rightfully, in my view, have been complaining bitterly regarding pay. One reason (a major reason in my view, also) is that the requirements are quite low in today's world. Raising the requirements _may_ have a positive affect on safety ... I'll let someone else argue that ... but it can not help but raise entry level pay. It's simple supply and demand.
Coupled with the departure of the unique five year glut of the last 60 year old retirees who were allowed to fly until 65, the long-term opportunities could be great, salary wise. Sort term ... the years between deciding to 'do it' and reaching a living wage still are problematical, that's for sure.
Many nations are filling the gap with special "ATP Learner permit" licenses (valid only on multi-crew aircraft ... as along-time pilot I don't feel this is a good thing., but I think the trend is already well established. Also here in Asia, ab intio training sponsored by many carriers is becoming ever more popular, again driven simply by a dearth of qualified candidates.
Long term prospects for professional pilots, overall, seems very bright ... ah to be 20-something again ... but will those prospects be in the US? My crystal ball is cloudy in that area.