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Is this a dying breed of Airman / Pilot for airlines?

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Is this a dying breed of Airman / Pilot for airlines?

Old 14th Dec 2010, 17:20
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don't forget the fact that statistics can be twisted and turned any-which-way, so it suits the "speaker"!

If you look at incident reports, nevermind accident reports, a trend is clearly recognizable.

As for how many hours make one experienced? No straight answer. It's rather the type of flying, as oppossed to the number of total hours, I'd say.
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Old 14th Dec 2010, 17:23
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You cannot make generalisations at all about ability and background. To do so is demonstrably idiotic. It is like saying all Swedes are blond, or all Frenchman smell of garlic.
That pretty well sums up my feelings on this subject.

In my career, 40 plus years, one of the worse pilots I ever flew with was ex-military and probably the best was all civilian, ie GA.

It's one of those you can't judge the book from the cover things.

Admittedly a military pilots does receive the best training, but sometimes the training is wasted.

But personally, when I'm forced to ride in the back of an airliner, I like to see gray hair in the front left seat.

You cannot train or teach experience.
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Old 14th Dec 2010, 18:25
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Debating current standards of airmanship and CRM depends on how these are defined; previous threads (Safety & CRM) have toyed with several ideas. The comments below are based on a simple view that CRM is the application of human factors and airmanship represents personal qualities affecting behaviour in the use of skills and knowledge.

Both aspects are evolutionary; airmanship, since the advent of aircraft (or previously based on seamanship, etc), CRM, a relatively new concept, but again based on old ideas of human–system interaction. Evolution depends on the operational environment and is usually a slow process, but as seen with CRM many different forms can evolve relatively quickly and in parallel; perhaps similarly with airmanship.

Because these issues are evolutions, an instantaneous evaluation would more likely identify a mismatch with the current environment, there is always lag, thus it is more important to look at recent trends.
The operating environment is in transition with the use of high technology and highly automated aircraft. This is against a background of improving reliability, and thus less opportunity to use critical skills. The environment is increasingly more complex.
Many operations interpreted these as a reasons to reduce attention on some aspects of skill and knowledge with commercial benefit from reduced training content and/or duration.
More recently, commercial pressures are also affecting training directly, perhaps with significant impact where previously there was some resilience from an experienced pool of pilots.

Thus whilst there does appear to be a mismatch between the need and the actuality of airmanship and CRM, the greater concern that the trend is for an even greater mismatch driven by current commercial pressure and pilot shortage.

There are some significant exceptions to this as indicated by the QF 32 incident and several other notable safety successes. These appear to stem from an ‘investment in safety’, and/or national or organisational culture – ‘you can create your own luck’. On one hand these operators provide excellent role models, but on the other tend to widen the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’s’. Unfortunately in safety the ‘have not’s’ often set the public scene.

Thus IMHO whilst airmanship and CRM may not be dying they are in decline, particularly at a time when there should be even greater focus on them to match the relatively rapid changes in the industry and likely developments.
One of the training difficulties is whether the critical aspects of airmanship and CRM can be taught or if there has to be personal exposure to situations in order to gain experience – the application of knowledge, the skills of using what has been taught.
I think that there is a compromise solution, but this requires a new way of looking at both training and operating to achieve an appropriate match between the current/future environment and those who work in it.
Identify the critical issues, invest in safety, train the trainers, Captains as mentors, and debrief!
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Old 14th Dec 2010, 18:45
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IF flying were thousands of hours of boredom, the cadet pilot would be fine and cheap.

BUT, flying is thousands of hours of boredom punctuated by seconds of stark terror.

I came up the hard way. GA, CFIIMEI, 3 regionals (all are now out of business), Bank Checks, corporate. And I got on a great airline that suddenly stopped hiring a year after I got on.

So, when things can be guaranteed as boring ONLY...fine, hire the other guy. But because it cannot be boring ONLY, hire me or someone like me.
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Old 14th Dec 2010, 18:55
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What is concerning me is the interaction of automation and experience.

Automation invariably introduces dependencies, and these dependencies appear to be increasingly complex. For example it would appear that the cutting of one wiring loom in QF's A380 engine failure, plus the failure of one engine, generated 53 ECAM messages - and failed multiple systems.

Now less automated aircraft also have dependencies, but quite so many?

The concern I have is that with increasing automation much beyond the level it already is, there may be no point in requiring the levels of airmanship that were previously thought necessary, since the failures experienced, though infrequent, are likely to produce results so bizarre that superb airmanship and training will not be able to resolve the problem.

To put it another way; I am capable of resolving automotive electrical problems of the distributor, coil, points and plugs variety. My superb problem solving skills failed completely in the face of a Mercedes Benz engine computer. Even MB didn't have the skills. There was nothing to do but replace the unit.

To put it yet another way; I am led to believe that VH - OJA is still in Singapore, not because of the structural damage it suffered, but because there is considerable uncertainty regarding the integrity of its electronics, although I stand to be corrected.
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Old 14th Dec 2010, 19:00
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The Qantas A380 will be repaired in Singapore.

That's why it's still there!


Last edited by oldchina; 14th Dec 2010 at 19:21.
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Old 14th Dec 2010, 19:41
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Originally Posted by Jabiman
Ok, what about this. An airline needs to hire a FO, they have two applicants:
1) Someone who has just completed an integrated course and has no flying experience but has also done a TR and is willing to pay the airline for line training.
2) Someone who has a few thousand hours in GA and has also just completed a TR but who wants a wage better than he was getting in GA.
I know which one the bean counters will choose, so who is demonstrably idiotic now?
You say you “know” which pilot candidate would be chosen by the “bean counters.” Which do you believe they would choose? It’s not evident to me … but then, again, I’m not familiar with airlines that can hire pilots who they expect will “pay the airline for line training.” My anticipation would be that the pilot candidate selected would be the one who would be most likely to provide the services contracted and not cost more than the amount already budgeted to become trained and qualified to begin providing those services.

In the aviation world I live in, no one gets on board a line flight without having been adequately trained (which almost always means completing the required course of training – both ground and flight) having passed a proficiency check that, in some cases, results in the issuance of a government-issued pilot certificate, sometimes with an airplane type rating affixed. Perhaps you are referring to those sometimes-encountered circumstances where an applicant must have a particular license or rating to be interviewed, and the airline will offer that potential applicant the opportunity to purchase training to acquire said license or rating. Those circumstances do exist – and when they do, most often it is to provide the airline a slightly better opportunity to see the potential applicant in a training environment prior to their agreeing to put him/her on the payroll (not to mention having a lot more knowledge about what that particular applicant has learned regarding the subjects just completed) … but that is a far cry from “paying the airline for line training.”

I am also suspicious of the fact that there may be some organizations around the globe who advertise themselves as airline pilot training academies – graduating persons commonly referred to on this thread, at least, as “cadets” – where the quality of those graduates are, shall I say, suspect? However, the kinds of training organizations I have regularly referenced in my posts on these threads (primarily those with similar themes to this one) the graduates of which might also be categorized as “cadets,” are those organizations that function similarly to military flight training – commonly called Undergraduate Pilot Training – programs. As I’ve said on these forums, it takes a specified period of time for anyone to acquire the skills necessary to pilot an airplane – and depending on the route taken (civilian or military) it would most likely be in the neighborhood of 9 to 18 months with a logbook total of something like 250 hours of flight time entered and completing a considerable amount of academic training, discussion, and testing. I’m quite sure that there are those civilian schools that produce reasonably competent graduates – just as I’m sure there are those graduating less capable examples. Similarly, the military has a fairly good track record of producing competent pilots – and, of course, there have been those who have “squeaked by” when they probably should have been washed out. No organization is perfect – but, in my mind, the military approach is clearly a better bet to produce a quality product.

I am not shy about acknowledging my prejudices here … I quite readily admit that my preferences lean toward those having completed military flight school. What is more, over the years, I have been generally justified in exercising that preference. Military programs are known for some attributes for which at least some “for-profit” aviation training academies are not necessarily as well known. Those attributes are 1) an exceptionally good screening process; 2) an exceptionally good pilot training program; 3) the competence and dedication of the instructors; 4) the professionalism and dedication of those who develop and over-see the administration of the instruction, practice, and evaluation processes; 5) the level of fidelity and reliability of the training equipment; 6) the sequence and scheduling of the training program itself (a lot of which has to do with mother nature’s weather); and 7) the determination and dedication of the individual students, themselves. My continued advocacy is for civilian pilot training programs that are, for all intents and purposes, managed and conducted similarly to these military UPT programs. Regardless of the program path followed, it is almost a sure bet that the path that has these features in either limited quantity or provides them in “name only,” winds up producing pilot candidates of a lesser quality for the most part.

My concern, as addressed on these forums previously is the looming pilot shortage that is often recognized by some and dismissed as illogical by others. If a pilot shortage does not materialize, then the methods that have been used in the past (i.e., drawing on former military, former corporate, and former instructor pilots as the likely “new” candidates) will likely continue to provide an adequate number of reasonably competent “new-entrant” airline crewmembers. However, if the predictions that many are currently describing actually do come to pass, the methods on which the industry has depended for the past 2 dozen years will simply not meet the demand. At that time and without proper preparation, the motivation is likely to be “get whomever you can, as cheaply as you can, train them as best you can, in as little time as you can.” Rather than rely on this approach, I would much prefer to have in place a regulatory requirement that will mandate the kinds of competencies that are typical of the military-like programs, described above. I say regulatory because that specifically sets out the requirements that have to be met, and requires everyone involved to play by the same set of rules … essentially leveling the playing field. The problems with this approach are primarily the following: 1) the program to be used would have to be essentially “in place” and ready to be used; and 2) the program would have to be carefully built from a structured design of applicant screening processes; training program development and refinement; instructor selection and training; management commitment; training tasks built to support and be supported by the academic courses; training sequence determinations; and the encouragement for continuous and free-flow of instructor-student interaction. This takes time. Such a program cannot be put together in a shortened time frame, particularly if there is an urgency driving the endpoint of that time frame.

I don’t know whether or not my descriptions of what I mean when I refer to a pilot training program graduate described as a “cadet” are different from those with which others here may be familiar. If my descriptions are, indeed, the kinds of things for which some here believe leave competency at the gate and seek only a warm body in the other seat … all I can say is that I’ve done a poor job of describing what I am advocating. My point has been that while we are all (I hope) looking for a way to best ensure competency in both “window seats” in the front of the air machine, simply ensuring that the person we want has a minimum number of hours “penned” into his/her logbook (whether that is 250, 500, 1500, or 2500 hours), to my way of thinking, while that may be one measure, ensuring what was being done while those numbers were being entered is a lot more important in the ultimate achieving of our mutual goals.
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Old 14th Dec 2010, 21:06
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Sunfish – “What is concerning me is the interaction of automation and experience”.

The QF32 incident should alleviate your concerns. Not only did the crew make a skilful assessment of the situation - time and resources available, they used the automation (ECAM) wisely – as designed.
The failure was exceptional, but it did not present an impossible situation (unlike your MB). The crew’s activities provides a good basis for others to learn from - how to use / interact with automation, and also how to manage the consequences of a surprising event.
As an example for experience, it is not the incident, but the processes of managing which has to be remembered, this could be applied to future ‘untrained for’ situations. Perhaps it’s the learning associated with incidents – the transfer of knowhow - which is lacking in current concerns over airmanship CRM etc.

The interesting safety question is if all Qantas crews have similar airmanship/CRM standards – I suspect yes, but what if another operator was involved with a lesser capable (automated) aircraft. An example http://www.pprune.org/tech-log/42844...ml#post6027247
Although similar, this incident also had a safe result. The quality of airmanship and CRM may not have been the same as Qantas (we don’t know), but at that time it was sufficient (two Captain crew).
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 01:52
  #29 (permalink)  
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Let's not get drawn into who is the better applicant or pilot: military vs GA, or whether highly sophisticated aircraft produced by Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, (soon to be) Chinese Comac, etc, etc.... provide the gap of hand flown NDB sector entry approaches and raw data IF skills so they are no longer needed (cause when the crap hits the fan, these skills are required!).

CRM? How can you create a safe cockpit authority gradient of a Capt with, say 15000 hrs is working with an FO of 200 hrs? (I'm not saying it can't be done, but the theme of this thread is that such needs are dying!)

What we are talking about is the systemic and what's more DELIBERATE dumbing down of the profession. This is achieved in the deliberate hiring of less and less experienced pilots, ignoring the pools of applicants ready but not willing to work for unrealistic and insulting salaries.

Some comment that if the pilot passes the regulatory body's and airlines' checks then that should be enough. I used to be believe the same until I ventured into the contract world of other (ICAO) airlines....so please comment on this reality:

Rajasthan: Fraud pilots busted: Nation : India Today

Now, there are other such examples in western nations as well.....

So, let's NOT just look at the act, look at the SYSTEM that allowed such things to occur. How did a child of 22 hours pass his 73NG rating, route checks, line checks, etc? Those who signed off on all these so called checks should have their licenses stripped!

While the crew of QF32 were nothing short of exemplary, really in my opinion they only did what they were trained to do and their experience dictated. Like Sully and Skiles: they did the same. So, are those skills dying / in decline today? Again, YES from my recent experience. And deliberately so.

Please read the following from QF's LCC Jetstar (JQ): 100% owned by QF:

Fasten your seatbelts

The author (FO Joseph Eakins) was sacked for what he wrote. Good news is the unions are supporting his reinstatement aggressively.

Airlines wish to replace experience with self trained cadets. Where experience lacks training MUST replace it, as best possible (!!). Yet again, we see from evidence presented that such training is ignored, skipped around and or fraudulently completed to race a low cost and dangerous backside into low cost and dangerous seat.

Pilot shortage? Usually when a resource becomes scarce the value of it goes up, however we are seeing the complete opposite in aviation.
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 07:00
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Jabiman will be spending more time with his family this week.

Yours sincerely

An unsympathetic moderator
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 07:32
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Lower time FO's and even captains are becoming the norm due to (for the time being) rapidly expanding airlines. I agree that experience is not particularly valued unless things go spectacularly wrong, but I also think that the situation has become even more complex with our highly regulated (through SOP) operations.

Some airlines do not allow an deviation from SOP - even if it makes sense. What does all your experience help if you are unable to use it to the advantage of your company because the SOP (written by a desk jockey) forbids it?

We are, despite our best efforts, becoming trained Pavlov button pushers, reacting to any stimulus by following an SOP action. It is not all wrong to do it this way - years of evolution has brought airline flying to this point, but it makes the inexperienced oddly more suited to the job.
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 08:42
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Still, my point is that the experience and qualifications are out there. They are victim to unscrupulous desk-jockey fools relying on God-like safety nets that are the automated systems of aircraft designers. And when that fails (QF32 or Sioux City where failures were unheard of or basically untrained for) pilot experience, judgement and expertise is not a want, but a minimal NEED.

I know I can train a person (simulator) who has never sat in a cockpit before to take a heavy jet off, fly a circuit and [auto]land it. No skill or finesse, least of experience or talent required. They'll learn things wrote. No idea "WHY" things are done but the result is still the same (safety vs luck). Mr BoeBus dumbed it down well enough and operators rely on this.

Regarding SOP's: Personally I have never operated under any SOP's whereby there wasn't a statement written somewhere along the lines of "Any deviation from standard procedures requires a special briefing...." So, for example:

PF: "I'm going to drop it down a little quicker and hotter than usual to get under that cloud band so we get visual earlier. Are you happy with that?"
PM: "Yeah, I see what you mean. No problem, I agree" ....OR.... "I know what you're saying but I'd rather just keep it along the normal flight path & speed. We can intercept from the radar vector. Is that OK?"

Problem solved AND all the while SOP's were adhered to. (Its called CRM). If company SOP's do not cater for such scenarios then truly this is a sign of the robotic can't-think-outside-the-box leadership style.

Growth and expansion are NEVER a reason to allow standards to slip. My argument again is that they are, and deliberately so. I say that because find me another reason why (major) airlines would take a kid with (barely) a shiny CPL and ignore the experienced operator: one is paid according to price norms and the other under a new guise of "cadetships" or other, offering 50% less in terms of renumeration as well as T's & C's. Just look at CX for example and what JQ (100% owned by QF!!) in Oz are also doing! (see previous posts for references).
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 09:13
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Experience and qualifications must count towards becomming a first class pilot however individual ability is surely the most important factor.Take two people with the same qualifications and the same number of flying hours, they will not necessarily fly a plane with the same competance?
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 09:26
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Please do go on bashing the CADET F/O's like myself and tell me that the GA self improver is a way better pilot. Could you then please tell me why my GA self improver CAPTAIN last week was electing to fly the jet coupled down to minimum autopilot disconnect height at LBA last week and wanted to select the minimum landing flap setting (thus increasing our LDR by 200m) and making a long flare, very soft touch down and some aerodynamic braking on a wet runway with ice/snow ridges? (for those of you that don't know leeds, this aint the place to be doing it...)

I guess because if he could do it in a C152 then, heck, i can do it in a medium JET at night tooo.....

I also heard this guy faild a check ride because he was all over the place on his raw data approach....

So for all of you that just LOVE stereotyping the junior pilot group:

YOUR WRONG, experience says a lot, but not everything! And i am not god's gift to aviation and i do not want to become a Captain asap as i want some more experience (10+ years of med and heavy jet flying from the RHS that is), i always try to fly AP/AT off approaches before intercept and create the best working atmosphere there is in the flight deck.

and to finish off: i have great respect for my seniores and more knowledgabele collegae in the LHS and i suggest you do the same!
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 09:41
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This is a discussion without any end. The same way that we all thought the captain was an idiot when we were FO's and now know different - the same way only those with real experience and extra qualifications can know how much it means for a safe and efficient operation.

I cannot tell a cadet what he doesn't know, because I don't know where to start.
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 10:24
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Clouddriver: This will be the third post I've written to try and pull this thread away from the GA/cadet vs military debate.

The point of this thread is to question whether airmanship and professionalism is a dying breed (or in decline) in airlines, with reference to the superb job done by the crew of QF32.

Those arguing cadets vs military vs GA have missed the point of this thread.

For argument's sake though, some airlines only seem to offer cadetships as a means to cut costs of pilots' salaries: pure and simple. and again, refer to the CX goings on! EVERY person in almost ANY profession does an apprenticeship in some form. It is how that apprenticeship is treated by the pilot as well as mentor (ie training departments of airlines).

Please go back and read the posts in their entirety and not pick the eyes of some that hit a nerve - and I can appreciate your opinion.

AND ONCE AGAIN (!!!) I am arguing that airlines are [deliberately] hiring low time pilots who unfortunately will take lower salaries, T's & C's for that shiny jet job. They are knowingly and deliberately NOT hiring better qualified and better experienced pilots as a cost cutting means. FACT.

Personally, I don't give a damn where my FO or Capt under check comes from. Gradings and performance are done on the situation presented. Like many here, I too have flown with guys who I believe nothing short of professional airmen (now or in the making) and others with far more hours as minimilistic self opinionated sky-Gods.

It is the level of airmanship and professionalism in our industry that see declining rapidly, and what's more so deliberately.

Cadet, military, or cadet, or other is of no relevance to this topic. It is the standard of professionalism and airmanship that is being argued.

(Eg: how many have ever gone through your Jepps to leant correct and standard RT, or was it learnt on the go, from instructors, fellow pilots or over the airwaves? Bad habits passed on and on and on....ATC and pilot alike. Here is but one example. The others I've stated in previous posts).
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 11:23
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Could you then please tell me why my GA self improver CAPTAIN last week was electing to fly the jet coupled down to minimum autopilot disconnect height at LBA last week and wanted to select the minimum landing flap setting (thus increasing our LDR by 200m) and making a long flare, very soft touch down and some aerodynamic braking on a wet runway with ice/snow ridges? (for those of you that don't know leeds, this aint the place to be doing it...)
Did you prevent him from doing so? If not: what would you have told the investigators after an overrun? If the actions of PF in the other seat makes you squeeze your buttocks and do not make your discontent known, CRM failed.
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 11:58
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I fly a lot with low-hour-cadets at our slightly orange tinted LCC, and I am surprised, how good they are. Most of these twentysomething-year-old guys are absolutely airline standard (and that is quite high, referring to the CAA...). They have good technical knowledge, good CRM, excellent hand-flying skills, just limited experience.
I find it quite intriguing that in the maritime industry there is absolutely no way a cadet graduating from a Maritime Training School would be immediately walk into a first mate (second in command position) job on a ship- whether a coastal or ocean going. He would need to have gained several years of sea-going experience before going back to school for more training before graduating with his First Mate ticket. Yet somone can be an airline pilot second in command of a bloody great jet transport within 15 months of first learning to fly.

if the sea can be terribly unforgiving of a mistake how much more for the skies and it's a long way to fall..
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 12:22
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That the corporate beancounters are attempting to fill right seats at the lowest possible cost is an undisputable fact. The latest(?) verification of this fact is the birth of the "MPC" certificate, which attempts to put pilots into the right seats of airliners with less than the previous minimum experience requirements than a CPL or IR. These pilots will have NO future as Captains based on that certificate, because even in the right seat of the airliner they will NOT build the requisite command time for a CPL, much less an ATPL! Also, given the types of airlines that will hire them, they are unlikely to have the time or money to pursue GA time on the side with which to build that time. While the idea is attractive to short-term-looking beancounters, it is an absolutely terrible idea for the long-term health of the airlines and our profession.

IMO, the US FAA proposal to require an ATPL for airline FOs is a good idea that is well overdue. Regardless of how or where a pilot gets hir experience, it is that experience that, well applied, will save the lives of hir passengers when the next turbine disk comes apart.
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 12:32
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The problem with all this GA flying requirement is how to obtain it?
In most regions of the world there simply aren't enough GA jobs to fulfill this potential requirement.
In my view, MPL is not idiotic, but the candidates would be better off with more coaching. I personally found that with increasing experience, training sessions in the sim are getting increasingly more interesting i.e. instead of merely hoping to pass the check, you start looking more in potential scenarios and discussions with colleagues.
Why wouldn't you let the MPLs get 1 session in the sim per month in order to stimulate the learning process?
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