Reaching 1,000 Hours

Robert Chapin
2016-12-24T13:27:36+00:00

There is no time to celebrate.  For most new pilots, career advancement means flying 1,500 hours as fast as possible.

Cloud layers seen while flying

Having a nice view is one of the daily thrills of flying professionally.

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27 Oct 2014

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Denial of R-ATP Exemption for MSU Denver

Robert Chapin
2014-07-17T12:20:22+00:00

Denial of exemption letter to MSU DenverThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week denied an exemption to the Metropolitan State University of Denver that would allow graduates of Part 61 flight training to become eligible for restricted ATP (R-ATP) certification.  This is a complete reversal from the decision issued last week to Purdue University.  In denying MSU Denver, the FAA writes, “the relief requested is not in the public interest and would adversely affect safety.”

Following that determination is a somewhat bizarre accounting of MSU Denver’s aviation program:

The proposed arrangement does not meet the intent of having the ground training integrated with the broader academic curriculum. MSU Denver does not have any control over the curriculum provided by CNCC and the FAA would have no oversight responsibilities with MSU Denver because it does not hold a part 141 pilot school certificate.

The FAA notes that MSU Denver voluntarily surrendered its air agency certificate on April 19, 2013, and stated in its petition that it will continue to conduct training via part 61 vice part 141. Prior to the voluntary surrender of its part 141 pilot school certificate, MSU Denver held approved ground school training course outlines for the commercial pilot certificate and the instrument rating. Without a part 141 certificate, the FAA will not be able to determine if MSU Denver’s key personnel, facilities, aircraft, equipment, and training syllabus maintain a training standard that is equivalent to part 141. As stated above, the FAA has determined that meeting the part 141 standards are a necessary component to ensuring proper integration of the ground training with the broader academic curriculum and it enables the FAA to oversee the program and ensure continued compliance with the letter of authorization issued on an established 24-month schedule that coincides with the part 141 pilot school renewal. The FAA has concluded this oversight is critical for assuring that the standards set forth by Congress for a reduction in flight time continue to be met.

The FAA also notes that because MSU Denver previously held a part 141 pilot school certificate, graduates who completed their ground and flight training for their instrument rating and commercial pilot certificate under that training program could be eligible for a restricted privileges ATP certificate with reduced aeronautical experience without an exemption. MSU Denver has not yet applied for the authority to certify those graduates.

This decision is a significant setback for MSU Denver graduates, which creates a bad precedent for regulation of flight training in general.  As stated in its petition, “MSU Denver will no longer be able to support industry needs and educational programming to highly diverse populations with the same viability it has sustained for over 45 years.”  If the Part 141 university graduates are unable to qualify for R-ATP certification, then the value of Part 141 training is further reduced at all universities.  Authorization of R-ATP qualification programs began in August 2013 and has reached only 33 States so far, leaving many Part 61 and Part 141 aviation graduates ineligible.

17 Jul 2014

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R-ATP Part 61 Exemption for Purdue University

Robert Chapin
2014-07-13T10:58:44+00:00

Grant of Exemption letter to Purdue UniversityThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week granted an exemption to Purdue University allowing graduates of Part 61 flight training to become eligible for restricted ATP (R-ATP) certification with reduced experience requirements.  This exemption is retroactive.  It is effective for all Purdue graduates from 2009 through 2016.  The R-ATP check rides can be conducted through July 2017.  Graduates are now only required to have an eligibility certificate from the university and a copy of the exemption letter from the FAA.

This exemption marks the first time the FAA has accepted R-ATP applicants who did not complete FAA-approved training under Parts 141 or 142.  The requirement for airline pilots to hold an ATP or R-ATP certificate went into effect August 2013 and made no exceptions for university graduates who completed the same training under Part 61.

Purdue’s petition for exemption was dated 24 August 2013.  Petitions from four other universities remain outstanding and were neither granted nor denied.

The FAA gave the following reasons for granting this exemption:

  • Purdue became a Part 141 flight school on 27 September 2013.
  • Purdue received authorization to certify R-ATP eligibility on 31 March 2014.
  • Purdue’s Part 141 ground training “is no different” from its former Part 61 program.
  • “Key personnel, facilities, aircraft, equipment, and training syllabus … also existed when Purdue conducted training under part 61.”
  • Several factors contributed to “an equivalent level of safety … for those who previously completed their ground and flight training.”

Previous article: R-ATP Exemption for Part 61 Training

13 Jul 2014

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Pilot Shortage Update

Robert Chapin
2014-06-01T01:45:29+00:00
Graph showing pilot and other airmen statistics past and projected.

Airmen Employment Statistics

Graph of active pilot numbers from 1999 through 2013.

Active Pilots in the U.S. the past 15 years.

The release of December 2013 airmen statistics indicated another increase in the number of airline-qualified pilots in the United States.  Labor statistics also showed an increase in pilot employment last year.  As a country, we do not seem to be running out of pilots by any numerical measure.

A deeper analysis is always more interesting, of course.  Despite the new hiring for airline pilots, the long term employment projection changed from positive to negative.  The reasoning offered with the projection is very similar to my own comments posted earlier this year: Airlines will increase the capacity and efficiency of their fleets to improve profitability.  Taken a step further, this could result in fewer flights in the future.  This seems to be a pessimistic view, and I do not agree with the idea that airlines would try to effect a long-term reduction of flights.  Overall flight reduction is also contrary to the FAA projection of more aircraft operating each year through 2034.

Trends in pilot certification remain mostly unchanged, with the exception of accelerated divergence between ATP and commercial-level pilots, likely due to the regulatory changes requiring existing pilots to upgrade.  That regulatory effect will stabilize after 2014, but will remain divergent due to the permanence of upgrades.  The overall lack of trend changes between 2011 and 2013 is significant because the FAA continues to project trend reversals for private pilot and commercial pilot numbers.  This casts further doubt on the new projections for private and commercial pilot certification to increase.  Our general aviation sector has been losing around 8,000 private pilots and 2,000 commercial pilots per year since 2003.  Given that momentum, the GA numbers could easily fall another 10% to 20% or more before reversing.

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1 Jun 2014

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April in Brief

Robert Chapin
2014-05-12T12:36:00+00:00

usaa-rampThere are good changes happening behind the scenes here.

After the recent redesign of the Aviation Weather Center website, I updated my Prog Charts Archive to include the mid-range prog charts.  Those are the 3 through 7-day forecast charts issued once daily.

In the Missed Approach Point Study Guide, I expanded some of the explanations and added others, which now include 12 different scenarios that instrument students are likely to encounter.

For a few weeks now, I have been working between my flights to add a new section to this website.  It isn’t ready yet, but it should be live sometime this summer.  Other projects offline have kept me away from blogging for a little bit.

In the meantime, it’s already 90 degrees here in Texas, and I am flying whenever possible.  I am still taking small steps toward airline qualification and learning new things at work every day.  More updates soon!

12 May 2014

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Restricted ATP Minimums

Robert Chapin
2014-11-07T19:53:09+00:00

Easy-to-read details about the new ATP rules?  You found them!  I understand the need for simple explanations. There are six ways to get an ATP license now, each with different requirements.

This is my summary and comparison of the R-ATP minimums from 14 C.F.R. § 61.159 and § 61.160.

160 (a) 160 (b) 160 (c) 160 (d) 160 (f) 159
Age 21 years 21 years 21 years 21 years 21 years 23 years
Total Time as a Pilot 750 hours 1,000 hours 1,250 hours 1,250 hours 1,500 hours 1,500 hours
Cross-Country Time 200 hours 200 hours 200 hours see notes 200 hours 500 hours
Instrument Training Any § 141 § 141 § 141 Any Any
Commercial Training Any § 141 § 141 § 141 Any Any
Education Military Bachelor Associate Bachelor
Concentration Aviation Aviation Aviation
Certification see notes see notes see notes
Recognized Coursework 60 credits 30 credits 30 credits

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21 Mar 2014

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R-ATP Exemption for Part 61 Training

Robert Chapin
2015-09-28T07:06:50+00:00

Logos of EMU, Jacksonville, MSU Denver, and Purdue.My searches on federal websites found four petitions by universities seeking R-ATP authorization without a required part 141 ground school certificate.

The petitioners are, in alphabetical order: Eastern Michigan University, Jacksonville University, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Purdue University.

Letters and documents filed by these universities seem to be routine.  I will point out also that the Jacksonville petition included a copy of the university’s rejection letter from the FAA dated December 2013.

While the FAA is not currently accepting comments on these petitions, I would like to offer my encouragement.  The FAA should authorize these universities as rapidly as possible, recognizing they are accredited institutions that offer 4-year degrees with aviation concentrations.  This is the purpose and intent of the R-ATP program, after all.

Details and reference numbers are listed below, in chronological order.

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25 Feb 2014

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Reaching 500 Hours

Robert Chapin
2014-02-26T01:52:28+00:00

Goals, time building, industry changes, and future advancement.  A look at the modern career pilot.

Flight photo of earth and sky.

Flying Over Texas

Chart of flight hours

Work Weeks Include up to 30 Hours of Flight

At the 500-hour milestone, experience comes more quickly for me.  I enjoy six days per week at the airport, often arriving at 6:45 am and returning home by 8 or 9 pm.  My schedule is not consistent, though.  If I am training new students, the appointments always fall between 7 am and 5 pm.  But the instrument students are scheduled by airplane availability, which means my shift sometimes begins at 4 pm and ends at midnight or 1 am.  Fortunately, my company requires ten hours rest.  I stay home and sleep if the schedule gets overbooked or loaded with back-to-back shifts.  There is always a chance of bad weather or mechanical problems forcing cancellations within the schedule, which adds to the inconsistency.

A few years ago, someone in my position could spend their spare time looking into which airlines are hiring pilots, at which experience level, and at which locations.  This changed with the addition of FAR § 121.436 last year, requiring all new airline pilots to hold an airline transport pilot certificate.  I am not yet eligible to apply for that certificate, which has become my next career goal.

In terms of the calendar month when I could be ATP certified, there is no precise forecast.  The situation is optimistic, but complex.  Under the provisions of FAR § 61.160 (b), I could accumulate 1,000 hours of flight time within perhaps 4 to 12 months, and still have no expectation of eligibility.

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30 Jan 2014

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New Detroit Airspace Effective April 3

Robert Chapin
2014-01-28T03:59:53+00:00
Diagram of the proposed Class B airspace configuration

Finalized Airspace Configuration

The FAA finalized last week the redesigned Class B airspace over Detroit, Michigan, as proposed August 2012, effective 3 April 2014 to coincide with the next chart cycle.

With this new rule came another discussion of the impact on flight training activities at EMU:

The Class B airspace established southwest of DTW is required to contain large turbine-powered aircraft conducting dual SIILS arrival procedures to Runways 4L/3R, as well as arrivals entering the DTW terminal airspace via the POLAR1 STAR. It extends over approximately three quarters of the Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Aviation flight school’s southern practice area with 3,500-foot MSL, 4,000-foot MSL, and 6,000-foot MSL Class B airspace floors. The EMU southern practice area is subdivided into four sub-areas with virtually no impact to the west northwest sub-area and minor impacts to the southern sub-area, but training activities in the northeast and southeast sub-areas will be limited to 4,000 feet MSL, unless pilots receive a Class B airspace clearance. The FAA does not expect a substantive change to the concentration of VFR training aircraft or training activities conducted in that practice area or the other practice areas located further southwest of DTW under the 6,000-foot MSL Class B airspace shelf. The training activities conducted in those practice areas today could continue under the DTW Class B airspace or within Class B airspace with the appropriate Class B airspace clearance.

Missing from this discussion, again, is the fact that it is often not possible to obtain a Class B airspace clearance in the existing Detroit area.  To say that there is “virtually no impact” from expanding Class B airspace seems inaccurate.  Maneuvers such as chandelles and power-on stalls often exceed 6,000 feet to conserve time and altitude during training.  The airspace changes are likely to cause students to practice these maneuvers at lower altitudes.

Expansion of the Class B airspace designated to the surface appears to intersect the visual route between the EMU southern practice area and the base airport YIP, which will impact that training route and all south departures.

The new airspace certainly brings exciting changes to the entire Detroit area this summer.  Be careful to maintain awareness of the new airspace boundaries.

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28 Jan 2014

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CFI Checkrides Do Count as Flight Reviews

Robert Chapin
2016-12-24T14:04:16+00:00

Federal Register Cover PageYes, it’s true!  After a CFI or CFII checkride, you do not need another flight review for 24 calendar months.

For example, I passed the commercial AMEL practical test on 26 October 2012.  When I was hired in October 2013, I reported my flight review date for my commercial test, meaning I would need a flight review in 2014.  But, then my flight review date changed.  Why?

As of 15 November 2013, flight instructor practical tests are recognized as flight reviews.  This rule was published as a revision to FAR 61.56 in the Federal Register under RIN 2120-AK23 on 16 September 2013, pages 56822 through 56829.

Thanks to this new regulation, my flight review date changed to 19 August 2013.  I will need a flight review in 2015.

If you find conflicting information on this topic, it is likely obsolete.  This new regulation does not appear in the ASA printing of the 2014 FAR/AIM.

Enjoy the new grace period, and have a Happy New Year!

29 Dec 2013

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