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Great Lakes Airline Training More Pilots

March 28
20:41 2014

To alleviate the pilot shortage created by a federally-mandated increase in flight hour requirements, Great Lakes Airlines has begun taking steps to train up more pilots.

Pilot TrainingOn March 18, the 2014 Great Lakes FAR-121/135 Operations Specifications were signed and approved by the FAA. That gave them the go-ahead to start training up more pilots for commuter flights.

This was a long anticipated critical step in being able to rebuild our pilot staffing”–Chuck Howell, Great Lakes CEO

In 2013, an FAA change in pilot requirements went into effect, creating a pilot shortage for Great Lakes Airlines and other regional carriers. As many Page passengers know, this led to frequent flight cancellations and increased frustrations. Read more about the pilot shortage here.

Under the new rule, pilots need at least 1500 hours flight time meet the FAR part 121 hiring standard to be an Airline Transport Pilot. The change was drastic. Previously, pilots were required to have 250 flight hours to be eligible. The new rule took many experienced pilots with just under 1500 hours out of the hiring pool.

Pilot Shortage Not an Easy Problem to Solve

Solving the pilot shortage problem isn’t as simple as sending more students to pilot school. In fact, that’s just the first step in a long process that takes time and money. Professional pilots put in hundreds of hours of flight time on their own dime before they’re hired for a paid position. And then they need to keep accumulating hours to get a position that pays well.

Great Lakes’ New Training Program

Great Lakes has implemented a new training program that takes pilots that meet FAR part 135 hiring standards (500 flight hours) and partners them with more experienced Airline Transport Pilots on scheduled flights. This allows the new pilots to build enough hours to eventually meet FAR part 121 hiring standards and become Airline Transport Pilots themselves.

In February, Great Lakes hired its first class of pilots for training. Four pilots from that group have completed all training and check rides. More are on their way.

We will be aggressively hiring additional pilots into the forseeable future with training capacity paced by availability of instructors, check airmen and simulator availability.”–Chuck Howell

To continue training and acquire more flight hours, the new pilots will fly modified Beech 1900 aircraft with experienced Airline Transport Pilots. On a few of its planes, Great Lakes has removed 10 seats from the 19-seat aircraft for these FAR-121/135 flight crews.

The supply of pilots interested, qualified and available to the company has been growing rapidly since the pilot community has learned of our interest in re-establishing what had become a severed career path for young pilots who had limited job opportunities to bridge from collegiate training programs to a congressionally mandated 1500 hour Airline Transport Pilot FAR part 121 hiring standard.”–Chuck Howell

New Flight Schedule for Page Begins April 7

Great Lakes Airlines is the only commercial airline serving Page. Starting April 7, Great Lakes in Page resumes direct service to Denver and service to Los Angeles through Kingman, along with direct flights to Phoenix.

For more information about the new schedule, visit the Great Lakes website or contact Page manager Judy Franz and her crew at 928-645-1355.

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