Cape Air Raised Hiring Minimums for FOs

Just less than 6 months ago, Cape Air FO part 135 applicants needed only 500 hours TT to be hired. I just checked today and that minimum doubled. Am I seeing this right? It sounds more like a joke than anything else. Maybe too many newly-hired FOs with the old minimums couldn’t pass the checkride? Maybe the pay increased? Nope, I couldn’t find that. Airline Pilot Central still has FOs listed as starting out at $10/hr and Cape Air’s website says captains start at $17.16/hr. I earn nearly as much as first-year captains earn and my job doesn’t even require a college degree. Cape Air seems to be more of a company for pilots who want to be home every night and don’t want/need to progress to the majors, but I could be wrong. Do you know anyone who flies or has flown for Cape?

So here’s what their website has:


I know quite a few pilots who have flown for Cape Air with varying reviews. I have no idea what their mins were 6 mos ago but I’ll take your word that they’ve doubled. I doubt it’s because of either of the reasons you state. Airlines will raise and lower their mins based on supply and demand. Cape Air is not a route to the Majors (never has been). What they are is a way for low time pilots to build time and experience as an alternative to flight instructing. If they’ve raised their mins that simply means they’ve got more than enough 500hr guys applying so they can afford to be more picky.

No the pay isn’t much but you’re still getting paid to fly and build time to get hired at a Regional. And no this isn’t a joke. While you may look at Cape Air and think (based on the pay) it’s not worth it, there are clearly plenty of guys who see it differently and feel the time and experience is worth it. The choice is yours.


Thanks Adam. I met a young Cape Air FO (an ATP grad) about 6 months ago in Vermont and he told me about their minimums being as low as 300 hrs, so it makes sense that enough 500hr guys applied during that time. I’ve been told Cape Air is a great way to build actual IFR time, which isn’t easy to get during training (especially in the winter). I’m always keeping my options open in case flight instructing doesn’t go well.

Never a bad idea.


I would have to confirm this, but I believe that for pilots flying the Cessna 402 Cape Air pays by the duty hour, not flight hour like most other airlines do. This means that their pay is actually higher than it appears at first.

Chris, you are right. I saw that on their website a while ago. I don’t know how many duty hours a pilot at Cape Air works in one week, but if it’s usually over 40 then it might be a good deal. However, based on their current hiring minimums, I would still need to build a lot of time instructing to get to 1000 hours. By that time I believe it would be better to remain instructing until I reach ATP minimums.


I would agree with that, I have always thought that instructing was the best path to the airlines. You will learn so much as an instructor and really get a chance to hone your own skills while passing your knowledge onto others.


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