Southwest Airlines Drop Their Jet/Turbine Hourly Requirments
Southwest Airlines have made the first in the battle against the pilot shortage.
This is a significant update; trust me, I am writing it with a big smile.
It will certainly not cure the pilot shortage overnight and will not provide thousands of newly qualified pilots with jobs. But it is a step in the right direction.
We discussed the pilot shortage in a considerable amount of detail on this website and talked about its implications and how the pilot shortage may be resolved.
One of these resolutions was the idea that airlines would have to reduce their minimum hourly requirements.
In America, newly qualified commercial pilots are forced to acquire 1500 hours of flight time before joining major airlines, such as American Airlines, Southwest and Delta (you can read more about Delta airline’s astronomical pay rise here).
This means that those pilots who had just finished flight school were required to build hours such as working as a flight instructor, working for regional airlines, which typically pay much less than the major airlines, or another commercial flying to build these hours.
Southwest Airlines - Reducing The Required Number Of Turbine Hours For New Pilots
Throughout 2022, Southwest set all kinds of records, but not good ones. Indeed, more Southwest flights were cancelled in a week than any other airline ever has over that period.
Most of these cancellations happened in December and devastated many people’s holiday travel plans.
Many of these flights were cancelled over the summer due to a lack of pilots, and a devastating pilot shortage, which is part of the enormous problem that America now faces.
Southwest has insisted that whilst new pilots will still need 1500 hours of flying experience to join, requirements set out by the FAA, only 500 of these hours need to be made up from flying jet aircraft or other turbine-powered aircraft, down from 1000 previously.
The FAA doesn’t specify the type of aircraft, but airlines often set their own guidelines for the number of hours spent flying jets because these are used for most commercial flights.
What’s the big deal?
What’s the big deal?
This means that newly qualified pilots now have the ability to enter major airlines without having to spend quite as long at regional airlines or flying for smaller outfits.
Whilst yes, pilots still need the minimum 1500 hours. More can now be made up by instructing, flying light aircraft, or other less competitive jobs.
The FAA states that:
“different air carriers may consider some types of flight time more important than others. Some prefer more jet or turbine experience, while some may prefer more time in a particular type of aircraft. Many airlines also consider whether the applicant has a college degree.”
Dallas Morning News reported that “Southwest’s requirement change doesn’t ditch the FAA-mandated 1,500 hours for pilots to get their Air Transport Pilot certificate, but it does require time spent flying on a jet or turbo-prop plane. That essentially means new Southwest recruits will have had to fly for a regional airline, a cargo carrier or in some other professional capacity.”