Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Bridge

I was hired under a "bridge" program. Back in 2006-2007 airlines were hurting for pilots. The minimum flight experience was dropped from the typical 1000-1500 hours to just 500 hours...or fewer. The fine details were that the pilot had to meet certain expectations.

The general consensus is that safety and skill are directly correlated to the number of hours the pilot has flown. There are flaws in this thinking just like most theories.

For example Joe might have 1400 hours of flight time while Chris might have just 600 hours. One might assume Joe is a more experienced pilot than Chris.

However Joe flew almost all of his 1400 hours in Class E airspace in Nebraska flying between his two family farms. Chris has flown all of his time in and under Class B airspace.

Anyways back to bridge programs.

Back in 2007 I was a CFI at ALLATPs. At the time they gave CFIs who instructed for (I think) 250 hours, a free RJ course.

By completing the RJ course I was eligible to be hired by my airline with just 500 hours total time and 100 hours multi-engine time. On my first day at my airline I had 570 hours and 240ish hours of multi-engine time

Fast forward to today. Pilots now need to meet ATP minimums (1500 hours total time plus other requirements) to get hired by an airline.

One might think the bridge programs are a thing of the past. Nope.

Republic Airlines has set up a program where a CFI will be interviewed while teaching students and, if it goes well, will be given a conditional offer of employment. The CFI keeps building hours. Once they meet the ATP requirements they simply show up for training. No further interview required.

American Eagle takes the Republic deal and ups the ante.

American Eagle has "Pipeline Instructor Program". The CFI interviews and then gets hired. Yes HIRED by American Eagle.

The CFI keeps teaching students while getting medical, dental and vision benefits as well as travel privileges on American Airlines and American Eagle.

It will be interesting to watch the airlines think of ways to attract new pilots.

Of course the Captains I fly with are somewhat bitter towards these low requirements. Many worked crap jobs flying boxes, possibly filled with rubber dog poop, around the country to build up the 3000 hours to get hired by a regional airline.

Times they are a changing.

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