So to address the shortage, some in the industry and in Congress are calling for some big changes. Among them are raising the mandatory pilot retirement age from 65 to 67, and reducing the number of flight hours required before a pilot can be certified.


another proposal aimed at quickly increasing the number of airline pilots is to reduce the 1,500 hours of flight time required for airline pilot certification.

Source: Pilot shortage prompts proposals to raise retirement age, lower training hours. : NPR

The 1500 hour requirement was mandated by the FAA, after the Colgan Air crash in 2009. Politicians felt it necessary to “do something” even though both pilots had more than 1,500 hours and both were licensed Airline Transport Pilots.

Captain Renslow was hired in September 2005 and had accumulated 3,379 total flight hours, with 111 hours as captain on the Q400.[3]: 6–11  First Officer Shaw was hired in January 2008, and had 2,244 hours, 774 of them in turbine aircraft, including the Q400.[3]: 11–14 [13]

Colgan Air Flight 3407 – Wikipedia

In most of the world, pilots start in the right seat of smaller aircraft (but even sometimes larger jets) at around 500 hours.

Where I live there is a very large flight school that is constantly training hundreds of international student pilots.

The students have completed about 3 years of university course work in their home country. They arrive here to begin a yearlong intensive aviation training program.

Over the course of the year, these students progress from no flying background through ground school coursework, private pilot, commercial, instrument rated and then multi-engine ratings.

Upon completion they return to their home country where they continue with about six months more of intensive training by the airline where they will be working (they are actually hired before coming here for their training).

Then, they end up as first officers in the right seat of, typically, regional air carriers. However, some I spoke with were already in line to go direct to the Airbus A319 or even A320 as soon as they completed their training.

This meant they would be flying revenue flights with as little as 500 hours (some had more) hours of flight training.

Meanwhile, the U.S. uniquely requires 1,500 hours. Whether or not this is necessary is a decision above my pay grade.

As part of my Population Demographics series, we know there is a shortage of workers in the “new worker” demographic of age 20-30. As a consequence, we are seeing a reversion to standards that were considered acceptable a few years ago.

This suggests, together with other examples I have cited, that the 4-year degree requirement for many jobs may be relaxed in the future. This will have impacts on universities that have been growing for decades and have managed to increase tuition far faster than almost any other product sold in the U.S.

The Population Demographics Series