Real Answers from Real Pilots

Poll: Thoughts on the 1500 hr rule

*REMINDER: YOUR VOTE IS PRIVATE

  • In favor of MAINTAINING the 1500 hr rule
  • In favor of REMOVING the 1500 hr rule
  • In favor of REDUCING the 1500 hr rule
  • In favor of INCREASING the 1500 hr rule
  • Just want to see the results

0 voters

If you have any thoughts/opinions you would like to add feel free to do so in the comments.
Thanks!

**TO add some background to those who are unfamiliar with the 1500 hr rule:

I am absolutely in favor of maintaining the 1,500 hour rule. Since this rule was enacted, we have not had a single fatal crash in the US, that alone speaks volumes. While I understand that new pilots see it as a barrier to getting into the industry, it has also been directly responsible for the large increase in salaries we have seen, along with signing bonuses, tuition assistance, etc. This rule has been good for safety and good for pilots.

Chris

8 Likes

Well said Chris. What are several ways a pilot can get to the 1500 hr mark aside from being a CFI? I understand this is the best and most efficient way as noted on this forum, but I was curious what other creative ways there are to make the 1500 mark. Fly passengers from one location to another? Flying banner planes?

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Charles,

As you said, being a CFI is the best and most efficient way. That being said, other jobs that come to mind are flying parachute jumpers, aerial surveying, and traffic watch, but CFI is the path the vast majority of people take.

Chris

1 Like

I agree

Chris I hope you don’t mind me asking but do you remember how many total hours you had when you took your first job at the airlines?

Tom,

I’m sure Chris will chime in but I was hired with a whopping 540hrs. This was obviously long before the 1500hr Rule. So am I just old and crusty and think all you newbies should suffer by having to build all that time? No and to be perfectly honest I believe hours are a poor reflection of skill, aptitude etc as I’ve flown with really sharp pilots with minimum time and terrible pilots with thousands of hours. So why am I a fan of the 1500hr Rule? Simple, when I was hired at my ExpressJet we were the highest paid Regional in the country at $18hr. Salaries have more than doubled (not to mention tens of thousands in bonuses) and work rules have improved greatly. Further your odds of getting hired have increased dramatically due to the shortage. While it may be frustrating, I think overall it’s been a positive thing.

Adam

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I view the 1500hr rule as similar to why doctors go through residency. Doctors go through residency so that they are present (used to do like 24hr shifts) at the hospital where sick people show up. This exposes them to a wide variety of ailments and experiences they wouldn’t get had they just went from school to private practice.

It’s an imperfect measure, but you will get a wide variety of experiences from weather, crew members, emergencies, and situations that you can read about, and simulate in training, but only experience by flyiing consistently.
When Colgan Air had their crash in 2009 in Buffalo killing all 49 pax, crew and one on the ground and the low time copilot was on the CVR stating how she had never seen icing before (not the cause of the crash, just part of the transcript), just moments before the crash, that pretty much sealed the fate of low time copilots for part 121 ops (airlines). Many of the families lobbied congress for quite some time to put pressure on FAA to change the low time copilot rules for part 121 ops. A few other rules were also initiated like being able to track pilots professional training and some crew duty rule changes.

The industry would love to bring low time new hire pilots back, because corporations always want cheaper, more disposable labor.

Appreciate your input Adam!

Would you say the hiring process was more competitive then than it is now?

Tom,

When Chris and I interviewed you needed zero checkride busts, squeaky clean driving record (forget DUIs), multiple Letters of Recommendation and at least 100hrs ME time just to get the interview (I also knew many pilots who never got the call). Once at the interview several people were sent home just for having their paperwork in the wrong order. More competitive is an understatement.

To quote a friend of mine who’s on the hiring board for one of the premier Regionals “if you’ve got 1500hrs and a pulse we’ll hire you”. This was pre CV-19 but we’re already heading back in that direction. DUIs? Sure. A couple of busts? No problem. In fact forget applying, recruiters are actually going out to flight schools to solicit applicants before they’ve even completed training.

Btw, when I interviewed the hiring mins were actually 700hrs but ATP grads were able to get hired at 500 because the airlines knew ATP grads could handle the pace. No other school had this arrangement at the time.

Adam

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Tom,

I don’t mind one bit. As Adam pointed out, we were hired before the 1,500 hour rule. I believe I had about 750 hours when ExpressJet hired me, which was a bit on the high side at the time. I was hired at Continental with 1,998 hours, which would be unheard of now. That being said, I made significantly less at Continental my first year there then new hire regional pilots make now. Much of this change was driven by the 1,500 hour rule.

Chris

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If I may, looking more or less from the outside in but I have great experience in developing organizations and recruiting talent. For a quick background, I just started at ATP in the Flex Path Option and beginning TOL’s while pursuing a dream that I have only but one life to achieve.

The 1500 hour rule seems to be an excellent initial qualifier in piloting capabilities but cannot and will never determine competency. I understand the industry is focused upon logistical principles in that, for a lack of better terms, “if the wheels (turbines) are not turning then there is no money being made”. We must also recognize that this creates a standard that employees are more or less “even” numbers qualified to fit the job based upon time in operation only. To be honest, I believe that flying, customer service, competency, and capability is much more important than that. While I believe we should modify the 1500 rule in lieu of other factors for consideration, I still see its value.

In the end, just because someone has 15 years driving a car does not mean they are a competent driver. I am coming from the perspective of a police officer, organizational supervisor, and Company Commander, transitioning to commercial pilot and beyond.

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I didn’t get exposed to aviation until my 4th year of college. I’d never really seen or had the chance to get into a general aviation aircraft. I had a college professor take me up in his SR-22. Gorgeous aircraft. I got hooked but a little late in the game. Also this isn’t an “unhappy career change post.” I’m writing about how the 1500 Hr effected my decision to go career.

On one hand I had my new engineering degree to put to use. I needed to pay back student loans and put a roof over my head. Going further into debt did not seem very smart. On the other hand I still a desire to follow a dream and fly anyway. So, I decided that I’d edge my way there eventually, and I planned to use a portion of my income earned as an engineering professional to put myself into a position to change careers one day. The year I earned my PPL was the year the 1500 Hr rule went into effect and that demolished my plan. All of a sudden it was going to take much longer and a lot more money to get there. I never quit. Even as years went by and my flying money went into living expenses I managed to earn an instrument rating along the way.

I’ve just been flying on my own all these years collecting a small amount of time on my logbook each year. Enough to stay involved and keep the dream alive. Next up I need to go for a commercial license and start teaching, but I’ve accumulated 10+ years as an engineering professional and it’s hard convincing myself to drop my salary for a fraction of it starting out in a new career. Even if it means a cockpit instead of a desk. Might be a good side gig. Who knows.

I guess all I’m saying is a lot of prospective pilots probably decided against going for it because of the rule. If the 1500 Hr rule hadn’t happened I would have gone for it right then and there instead of taking the long road. In a way, I’m glad the rule exists because it makes every pilot that much better and the public gets to sleep better at night. However, I can’t help but frown at it because it put a huge dent in my plans.

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I think you bring up a great point. The 1500 hr rule has no doubt made it difficult for those pursuing aviation to commit to it because it is such a big risk not only financially but also socially. Nevertheless, I think the majority of those in favor of maintaining the 1500 hr rule are those who are already at the airlines with 1500+ hrs and are able to reap the financial benefits. Not saying that there aren’t financial benefits and incentives for those to get their 1500 hrs but it is a serious commitment working a 1099 job when you barely have enough money to keep yourself afloat much less a family.

Tom,

I respectfully disagree. Those of us already at the airline never got retro pay for the pennies we were paid year one and never got the signing or retention bonuses. That ALL went to those after who came after. Further the airlines were far more selective and I know many good pilots who never got a chance to even get an interview. That really doesn’t happen any more.

Adam

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Joshua,

First off your 4th year of college is hardly late to the game. As for the 1500hr Rule, it’s unfortunate that was all it took to dissuade you from pursuing a career. I’m not saying this was a bad or the wrong decision, just that it was your decision. Other than a handful of legacy pilots who’s knew from birth they were going to fly and their parents paid for the whole ride, the vast majority of pilots I know sacrificed considerably to make their career happen. As I’ve said, while the 1500hrs definitely forced people into the time building phase much longer than in the past, the rewards were and continue to be far greater than they ever were (some pilots actually had to pay to build time and for their training at the Regionals). More important the odds of you getting hired and actually reaching the airlines went up astronomically.

Adam

I appreciate your appraisal but I graduated right as the housing bubble blew up. Going to engineering college was a grantee to find a good job. Recruiters would come several times a year, but not that last year. They came once and hired hardly anyone. But you are 110% right. That very much was my decision. I was already $100K in debt and didn’t think doubling it would be wise, especially since the 1500 Hr rule was going to put even more distance between me and an income. I also needed a roof over my head and didn’t want to be living out of my car. I applaud those in this community that would have done differently, and I’m thankful that I can finally afford commercial training somewhere.

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