Posts Tagged ‘pilot shortage’

Have you logged “startle” time? ATP training rules make the rating costly.

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

The new requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the Airline Transport Pilot exam, as demanded by Congress after a Colgan Airways accident, will hit in August of 2014. They are focused on giving pilots more experience before they get the ATP rating, and training them in upset recovery. The rules will increase the cost of just that rating, according to one school’s estimate, to $8,500 to $12,000. I got it in 1995 for less than $2,000 just for fun from ISO Aero, now known as Aero Services in Wilmington, North Carolina. The first effect of making airline candidates take more training is to discourage those of us who got it just for fun. The second is to take smaller schools and colleges out of the ATP training market. That’s because they can’t make money now that there is a new requirement for a full motion simulator replicating an aircraft of 40,000 pounds (minimum). Those things cost millions. AOPA and others fought the good fight to keep the requirements reasonable.

In that simulator, candidates are to learn some of the upset recovery techniques. Randy Brooks, a vice president at Aviation Performance Solutions in Mesa, Arizona, said a study of 16 accidents involving upsets (extreme banks, climbs, dives) revealed the pilot did the wrong thing. “In 16 out of 16 accidents the pilot did something that was contradictory to whatever training they would have had,” he said. As it turns out, the International Civil Aviation Organization that happens to be headquartered in Canada (it is for the world, not just Canada) will recommend to the world at some point in the future that upset training extend to those wanting the commercial pilot certificate. Once again, AOPA has officially expressed concerns that the suggestion consider all the consequences. The FAA doesn’t have to follow the suggestion.

Simcom Training Centers’  Tracy Brannon said the new ATP multiengine rules “…elevate the requirements to meet the title of the certificate.” His company, where he is the chief operating officer, is planning an ATP course that will be close to the ones Simcom offers for a full type rating. A full type rating course includes 14 hours in a simulator, and the new FAA requirements for the ATP call for 10 hours. The academic part will also be very similar. He has had inquiries from airline companies interested in sending applicants to such a course.

Brannon pointed out that the new ATP rules apply only to multiengine aircraft. So, the pilots like myself who got the multiengine ATP, just for fun, can still have the option of getting the single-engine ATP that does not fall under the new requirements. Simcom has a Saab 2000 simulator that meets the new requirement for training in a simulated 40,000-pound simulator, but company officials have asked the FAA to consider letting them use less costly simulators for the Hawker 800 and Dornier 328 that simulate aircraft weighing less than 40,000 pounds. There is no word from the FAA as yet on the request.

The FAA guidelines also require that the ATP candidate demonstrate a proper recovery technique after being startled. Brooks manages to startle students while flying an actual training aircraft by distracting them. “Then we’re going to talk about things you like to do besides flying, where you live, whether or not you’ve got kids–anything that will take you out of the cockpit, thinking I’m not going to do something, and wham. You’re going to have a simulated wake vortex encounter, and you’re going to hear me say ‘recover.'” Brooks can train students to automatically recover in three 45-minute flights. The new ATP rules call for use of a simulator for situations where the nose is too high or too low.

Opponents of the new rules warned that they could reduce the supply of airline pilots. “They’re going to pay $12,000 and then we start them out in a $10,000 job,” said the owner of a North Carolina flight school. The full impact won’t be known until after the rules take effect late next summer. In the meantime, a few hours of aerobatic training can pay big benefits. Make sure the instructor startles you before you graduate.

Calling all kids…Hello?

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Ray Larner of Lapeer Pilot Center in Lapeer, Mich., just posed an interesting question on the phone. I promised I would put it in our blog and see what happens. How do we light a fire under kids ages five to 20? “We are really, really, letting future generations down,” Larner said. He got into aviation, and chose to enter the U.S. Air Force, because of Sky King, Chuck Yeager, Bob Hoover, and all World War II aces. “It was a romantic time in aviation.” Now his granddaughter is determined to make it into the U.S. Air Force Academy. Why? Because Ray is around airplanes all the time, and her father encourages her to become a pilot. But what about the rest? I mentioned the EAA Young Eagles program which strikes at the heart of his question. The Young Eagles plan was to fly a million youngsters (they got 1.5 million and counting). He knows about that and thinks we need something more. What would that be? You can reach him through his Web site or just post something here and he will respond.

How to discourage a potential student

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Eric Brown of the Tampa area has always wanted to fly, so he accumulated the money and went to the nearest airport. He told the school he could afford to fly one time a week and the school told him he had to fly at least two times, preferably three. He found such a schedule would exceed the budget he had, and interfere with his job of traveling to represent an Idaho company called Scentsy . Also, that seemed like a grueling schedule and he wanted flying to be fun. So he left, thinking that was the last word. I told him that when I learned to fly, I could afford one lesson per week. I also told him about the sport pilot option that can be done in a third of the time and half the cost, but he has a baby on the way now and that will occupy the bank account. I also suggested he ask the school for names of competitors, and maybe the school will get the message. I won’t name the school, but pilots there glide above clear water and are very close to St. Petersburg when they do.