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.

1 comment:

  1. In the end, YOU got the job. For the longer term, I suspect that your airline made an excellent choice. Why? I'd suggest that they saw a young man with a bit of worldly experience who had chosen to migrate to flying, as opposed to a youngster who had never considered another profession - and probably had no marketable skills other than flying. We can add to that the fair-to-better chance that, having started your professional flying career at an age slightly greater than most of their hires, that you might stick around and eventually become a Career Captain with them, rather than skipping to a major and having to begin at the bottom - again. After your first year or so, I don't think it much matters how you got in the door; just that you did. If your blog posts are any indication of your satisfaction, I suspect that you will remain with your current employer for as long as you fly. Your seat upgrade is already within reach. Even if you choose to delay it a bit, just to maintain your base and something close to a normal family life, your number keeps moving up! If you maintain your current course, in another five+ years you'll be a senior captain at your base and your quality of life will continue to improve. Not having to commute is worth a lot and you already know it. Your salary will improve and your time at home will increase, while your 'cost of being employed' will be stable or decrease, so I just don't see you swapping brands. Sounds to me like some very good choices, both yours and your employer's. If I'm wrong, please explain... Best wishes, -C.


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