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A Comprehensive Guide to the 1500-Hour Rule by the FAA

Are you curious to know all about the 1500-hour Rule for earning your pilot certification? Here at Leopard Aviation in Arizona, we’re a professional flight school for prospective pilots, and we know all about the 1,500-hour Rule. Every day, our students get one step closer to earning their commercial pilot license with Leopard Aviation, and we’d be happy to help guide you on your journey to becoming a professional pilot in the aviation industry. Below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the 1500-hour Rule and how it affects new pilots who want to earn their licenses.

What is the 1500-Hour Rule for Airline Pilots?

Did you know that America and Canada are the only countries following the 1,500-hour Rule? The Federal Aviation Administration enacted this law for the entire airline industry, which requires pilots to have at least 1,500 flight hours of experience before they can fly for major airlines like Delta, American Airlines, Envoy Air, etc.

The Airline Pilots Association agrees wholeheartedly with the FAA regarding this Rule. Although, everywhere else in the world, you only need 250 hours of flight time to become an airline pilot. Therefore, students enrolled in a pilot training program can’t become Airline First Officers until they’ve completed this requirement for 1,500 hours of flight training with a certified flight instructor.

Requirement List for the 1500-Hour Rule

Below, we’ve outlined the requirements for airline employment as a first officer with certification to fly mainline carriers. You must:

  • Be over the age of 23
  • Have a commercial pilots license
  • Have your instrument rating
  • Successful complete an ATP training program
  • Pass all the ATP practical and knowledge tests
  • Have at least 1500 qualifying flight hours

Why Does This Rule Exist?

What prompted the increase in flight time for pilots? Before 2009, pilots could gain their commercial licenses with fewer hours of flight experience. However, in February of 2009, a regional jet had a terrible accident known as the Colgan air flight crash. The crash caused the deaths of two flight pilots, two members of the cabin crew, and 46 passengers.

In light of this tragic event, the National Transportation Safety Board changed airline-specific training requirements and the number of flight hours necessary to gain a license. Ultimately, the NTSB found that part of the blame was from over-tired pilots who failed to react appropriately to warning lights, and one pilot was even suffering from chronic sleep loss. As a result, the NTSB enforced the increase in pilot flight hours and experience to enhance safety for everyone, including passengers and flight crew.

Are There Exceptions to this Rule?

The 1500-hour Rule required for pilot flight training does have some exceptions. These exceptions include:

  • Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in aviation can reduce their time to 1,000 hours
  • Graduates with an associate’s degree in aviation can reduce flight time to 1,250 hours
  • Military pilots can gain their commercial license with 750 flight hours

The Impact of the 1500-Hour Requirement – Regional Airlines Are Experiencing a Severe Pilot Shortage

The Colgan crash had a high cost for those involved, including the passengers and pilots who lost their lives. However, this new Rule has impacted the aviation industry beyond changing the requirements for hiring pilots. By increasing the flight hours for gaining a commercial pilot license, the 1500-hour Rule has unintentionally caused an extreme pilot shortage. Boeing projects that the industry needs 610,000 commercial pilots in the next 20 years; 30,500 per year. This number has increased 27% from the previous forecast that was provided just five years ago.

In the past five years, there have only been approximately 14-16,000 new pilots seeking their commercial pilot license. This puts pilots in a good light for salary as supply and demand set the floor on salaries.

In addition to the stricter requirements for gaining a license, it’s also placed more financial stress on aspiring pilots because they need to spend more time and money to earn their certification.

Of course, going to any secondary school or college takes a lot of time and money in America. However, commercial airline operations have experienced serious problems in terms of pilot shortages, which created ripple effects. For example, flights are more likely to experience delays or cancellations, and many of the existing commercial pilots have to work overtime to compensate for the labor shortage.

Recently, the FAA rejected a proposal to cut the number of flight hours necessary for students to become co-pilots. Republic Airways, which flies for big-name airlines like United and Delta, proposed the reduction in flight hours in response to the extreme pilot shortage in America. However, the FAA ultimately decided to reject the proposed hour reduction.

Become a Commercial Airline Pilot with Leopard Aviation

While the 1500-hour Rule has caused a labor shortage, it’s also resulted in more experienced, skilled, and trained pilots flying commercial airlines. After all, there’s no denying that flight crews with more experience have better skills and create a much safer flying experience for everyone involved.

So, how long does it take to become a pilot? If you want to fly for commercial airlines, you’ll need to follow the 1500-hour Rule that the FAA enforces regarding experience and training. At Leopard Aviation, we are one of the best flight schools in the country to earn your professional pilot’s license. We have state-of-the-art aircraft, experienced flight instructors, and flexible training programs.

Call Leopard Aviation now at 833-359-5735 to learn more about our flight school and start your enrollment today.

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