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3 MIN READ

What Exactly is The 1,500 Hour Rule?

By Blue Line Aviation on Dec 8, 2022 3:15:00 AM

Commercial pilots must have at least 1,500 hours of flying time before they can fly passengers for hire. But what does that mean exactly? What do pilots do during those 1,500 hours? And is there a way to shortcut the process? In this post, we'll answer all your questions about the 1,500 hour rule. So whether you're aiming to become a commercial pilot or just curious about the process, read on.

What is the 1,500 hour rule?

The 1,500 hour rule is a regulation put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It requires that commercial pilots have at least 1,500 hours of flying time before they can be hired to fly passengers for hire. The rule was put in place in the wake of a number of high-profile crashes involving inexperienced pilots. The most notable of these crashes was Colgan Air Flight 3407 in 2009, which killed 50 people.

Critics of the rule argue that it creates an artificial barrier to entry into the industry, and that there are many safe and competent pilots who have less than 1,500 hours of flying time.

Proponents of the rule argue that it helps to ensure a minimum level of experience and safety for pilots who are responsible for the lives of their passengers.

The 1,500 hour rule is a controversial regulation, but there is no doubt that it has made flying safer for everyone involved.

Summary of the 1,500 hour rule

To gain a position as a first officer with an Airline Transport Pilot License, a candidate must:

  • Be 23 years old or greater.
  • Hold a Commercial Pilots Certificate and instrument rating.
  • Have flown 50 hours in a multi-engine airplane.
  • Complete an approved ATP training program.
  • Have flown 1500 qualifying hours.
  • Have passed all ATP knowledge and practical tests.

Are there exceptions to the 1,500 hour rule?

The rule applies to most pilots who have received their license recently, though there are a few exceptions. In some cases, the experience (and age) requirement may be lower than usual. These include:

  • Military pilots with 750 hours of flight time.
  • Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in aviation with 1000 hours of flight time.
  • Graduates with an Associates’ degree in aviation with 1250 hours flight time.
  • Pilots who are 21 years old must have 1500 hours of flight time.

The holder is not allowed a full ATP certificate, only a restricted privileges certificate. They are not allowed to be the Captain until they hold an unrestricted ATP certificate and meet the requirements outlined in the 1500 rule.

Want to read the 1500 hour rule in its entirety, the FAA has produced a fact sheet here.

Pilot Supply Is Not Meeting Pilot Demand

The change in training hours from 250 to 1,500 has made it dramatically more expensive for students who want to become a pilot. The extra hours and added expense has also made it more challenging to bring in different demographics, including women and minorities, into the pilot field.

Estimates for pilots needing to be hired by the airlines for 2022 range from 12,000 to 15,000. Yet, the current rate of training is expected to produce only about 6,000 pilots this year.

This means the pilot schools in the U.S. are producing less than half of the pilots that are needed to support the fleet plans of the U.S. airlines. The biggest hurdle to this is the 1,500 hour rule.

Having to get 1,500 hours before being hired shrinks the number of people who are willing to become pilots.

No other country requires 1,500 hours

The European Union requires a minimum of 230 hours along with specific airline training, and Canada still requires what the U.S. used to — a Commercial license, minimum of 250 hours, and specific training.

Flight schools recognize the challenge

The 1,500 hour rule does not specify a minimum or maximum amount of time that can take to accomplish. Blue Line Aviation provides a career pilot program that sees pilots hit their 1,500 hour goal in as little as 5.5 months. This is made possible by providing a structured curriculum, full-time instructors, and plenty of planes and flying opportunities.

The goal of this program is to get the student to their 1,500 hours as efficiently and affordably as possible so they can start their career.

To learn more about our program get in touch with one of our advisors.

Blue Line Aviation, established in 2012, is one of only a few flight schools in the world to provide quality flight training programs at an accelerated pace. In as few as five and a half months, students can go from no experience to fully confident and certified pilots, fully prepared for a career in aviation. Schedule a tour of our new state-of-the-art facility (located at 3149B Swift Creek Road, Smithfield, North Carolina) and let your new career take flight. For more inquiries and additional information, please visit our website, find us on social media, or contact Ashley Tucker, our Vice President of Sales and Marketing, at (919) 578-3713 ext. 305.