Shortage of Pilots in Anchorage
Proposed new rule raises requirements for first officers
ANCHORAGE - Next summer new Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] regulations on pilot training and experience are expected to come into effect.
Earlier this year the FAA proposed to raise the qualification requirements for first officers, also known as co-pilots, who fly for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines.
The regulation requires a first officer to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate that requires a minimum 1,500 hours of pilot flight time. A pilot would also need an aircraft type rating.
Currently, first officers are required to have a commercial pilot certificate, which takes 250 hours of flight time.
The new requirement is consistent with a mandate by Congress in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010.
Instructors at flying schools, including at the University of Anchorage, say the additional training hours and the cost could have a dampening affect on the desirability of the career field.
"It’s very expensive obviously to get a college education now double that, that's what it costs for the flight training,” said Rocky Capozzi, Director of the Aviation Technology Division at UAA.
“Anything that is going to delay the day when you can start making the money to pay back those college loans are of concern.”
Smaller air carriers in Alaska are worried they will lose pilots to the bigger airlines who will soon be headhunting.
"Amongst the industry I think it's pretty well understood that it's going to be the regional carriers that feel the impact first," said Capozzi.
"So if the big guys need more pilots where do they go? They go to the small guys and they take their most experienced pilots."