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Struggling to gain hours, FAA rule change impacts pilots

By Shannon Ballard 10:36 PM January 11, 2014

A local flight instructor says an FAA rule change made in the summer has led to a shortage of pilots now

ANCHORAGE – Flight instructor Armon Tabrizi came to Alaska to gain experience in the sky.

“Luckily in Alaska you get a fair amount of hours pretty fast,” Tabrizi said.

Tabrizi is the pilot who landed a Cessna 172 RG on Boniface Parkway this week.

“That was definitely a day where a lot of the training kicked in,” he said.

Tabrizi believes flight training is about quality more than quantity.

The Federal Aviation Administration, however, wants more time spent training. Last summer it made a drastic change to the amount of hours required to be a co-pilot for passenger and cargo planes by upping hours from 250 to 1,500.

“Looking at it as a pilot … I look at it and think, ‘Yeah, 250 hours, I understand the need for raising the bar there.’ 1,500  hours, that might be a little bit of overkill,” Tabrizi said.

Now pilots in Alaska are scrambling and flight schools are filling up with people like Joshua Carlson.

“My long-term goal is to get as many ratings and certificates as possible,” Carlson said.

But Carlson might be an exception.

Some regional airlines worry people may be discouraged from becoming pilots.

“For anyone considering to fly and make it a career it’s definitely going to have an impact,” Carlson said. “I think long-term it’s going to produce better pilots.”

Pilots who will know what to do in dangerous situations, even the most unexpected ones.

The change in required co-pilot hours comes after a regional carrier plane crashed near Buffalo, New York, in 2009, killing 50 people.

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