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October 1, 2013

UAA aviation students gain a leg up in the marketplace

Aviation Technology Division student
An Aviation Technology Division student inside a small plane.
New congressionally-mandated Federal Aviation Administration regulations are having a significant impact on training requirements for pilots seeking jobs as first officers.

As of August 2013, pilots must now earn an airline transport pilot certificate, commonly referred to as an ATP, before they can serve as a first officer for airlines providing scheduled passenger service (Part 121 airlines). Previously an individual holding a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating could serve as a first officer. The requirement of an additional certificate has increased the minimum number of flight hours a pilot must accumulate from approximately 250 to 1,500.

For graduates of the UAA Community & Technical College’s professional piloting program, there is a silver lining. The federal legislation allows the FAA administrator discretion to credit academic training toward the 1,500 flight hours required. Aviation Technology Director Rocky Capozzi, piloting faculty, and flight operations personnel have taken swift action to ensure applicable UAA course work is recognized by the FAA.

As a result, UAA is among the first group of universities granted institutional authority by the FAA to certify graduates of its professional piloting programs as academically eligible to apply for an airline transport pilot certificate with reduced flight hours.

“Translating all the requirements into plain language means a UAA professional piloting graduate could have a one-to-two-year advantage in the marketplace over a pilot who does not attend a university authorized by the FAA as a certifying authority,” said Capozzi.

The FAA has specifically approved a list of UAA courses that count toward reduction in total flight hours. Only those courses designed to improve and enhance the knowledge and skills of a student seeking a career as a professional pilot are applicable.

The payoff is huge for UAA students, reducing the number of hours for graduates with a bachelor’s degree to as few as 1,000 and for graduates with an associate degree to as few as 1,250. But students must strictly adhere to the requirements in order to be eligible. This includes earning both their commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating through UAA’s FAA Certified Part 141 Pilot School. Graduates meeting all criteria may have a certifying statement entered on their official transcript.

UAA professional piloting graduates who have not yet earned their airline transport pilot certificate should contact the Aviation Technology Division to ask for a transcript review to determine whether they meet certification requirements. Due to the exclusion of nearly all transfer credits and flight training, not all program graduates will automatically meet the certification standards established by the FAA. For more information, visit the division’s website at www.uaa.alaska.edu/aviation.

Story by Rocky Capozzi & Kirstin Olmstead

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Alaska Dispatch - "UAA pilot students get small break from tough new FAA regulations"