Hoping to head off pilot shortage, United Airlines and Metro State aviation program launch unique partnership
Pilot Shortage needs priming of pump
Metropolitan State and United offer PATH
1,500 hours requirement incurs HIGH COSTS
The pilot shortage has bedeviled the airline industry ever since August1, 2010, when the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Act was signed and then the FAA issued an ANPRM on February 8, 2010 and then promulgated a final NPRM on February 29, 2012 implementing the Congressionally mandated 1,500 hour restriction. That topic has attracted considerable coverage, including creative initiatives to attract and retain cockpit professionals. Attention has been devoted to airline/college partnerships to increase the available pool of pilots.
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Clearly, there is a lot of enthusiasm for any proposal to find people to occupy the front of airplanes. Thus, it is hard to express disappointment with the United Airlines and Metropolitan State University new pilot track program. The initiative is great, but the details are not well designed.
The requirements for an MSU student to participate are defined here:
- must be full-time Metro students
- with at least two semesters in the aviation and aerospace science school’s pilot officer program.
- remain in school full time with at least a 3.0 grade-point average through graduation.
- must have a commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating.
Providing a student with a defined (not guaranteed) career path is an enticing inducement. However, the 4th point on the UA requirement list, commercial license and IFR rating has been cited by many as the major deterrent to students considering a commercial airline career. The national average for this education has been estimated to be $15,000. That’s beyond the means of many who might consider this career.
The real problem is not really highlighted by the UA/MSU program- the 1,500 hour prerequisite, 14 CFR §§ 126.96.36.199 61.160 and 121.436. Before a candidate can meet these standards for a co-pilot (SIC), he/she must have logged 1,500 hours flying. According to ALPA, the cost of buying that time in aircraft is between $150,000 and $200,000. [N.B. the union asserts that the “shortfall” is attributable to the low salaries for commercial pilots.]
The problem is difficult and requires solutions, but unless there is more to this UA/MSU program, it is not likely to attract the number of candidates needed.
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