With the upcoming merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways, the U.S. will not only become the home of the world’s largest carrier, but also have the opportunity to create a few thousands of new jobs for pilots. However, as the FAA finalized its new rules on pilot training in the US which became effective on the 15th of November, 2013 it seems that the new-born airline might face a challenge in finding the required amount of pilots for its cabins.
AMR Corp. and US Airways are seeking to close their merger by the 9th of December, which is months ahead of the plan agreed upon in the recent settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. With a few thousand new jobs for pilots and the world’s largest carrier being based in the U.S., the entire affair naturally sounds like good news for the region’s economy. However, it seems that the airline’s troubles could last a bit longer, as the Federal Aviation Administration has put in place the new rules governing pilot training in the U.S., following the tragic crash of a Colgan Air Flight 3407 in February 2009.
“The merger of American Airlines and the U.S. Airways has been definitely stressful for both carriers, especially considering the fact that this decision was made in order to deal with significant financial difficulties. So the blessing received from the authorities must have taken a load off their shoulders,” shares Skaiste Knyzaite, the CEO of AviationCV.com. “However, with the legal matters being almost settled and the experts saying that the merger is in the best interest of both the industry and passengers, the newly born airline may in fact find itself still having a lot to worry about. As the new pilot training regulations have already become effective, the new carrier will have to face the difficult reality of the industry.”
The FAA’s final rule introduces more effective pilot monitoring, enhanced runway safety procedures and more extensive crosswind training, including training for wind gusts. In addition, pilots will be put through more ground and flight training to prevent and recover from aircraft stalls and upsets. As a result of the changes in regulations, the minimum flight hours required to become a first officer for a commercial airline has risen from 250 to 1500, despite the harsh criticism from operators, as well as pilots and training institutions. Meanwhile, American Airlines alone has been expecting to train and recruit up to 1500 pilots in the next five years.
“The recent FAA rules to increase pilot qualifications and improve training are the major steps towards addressing the greatest known risk areas in pilot training and are undoubtedly of great importance as they might prove to be a significant advancement for aviation safety in the region. However, considering the fact that overall demand for pilots in America exceeds 4000 pilots a year, these improvements are currently not the best ally for any carrier,” says the CEO of AviationCV.com.
According to Skaiste Knyzaite, the situation might prove to be even more serious, as the current generation of pilots is increasingly retiring, despite the fact that the age limit for pilots has been pushed from 60 to 65 years. Of course, such big players as American Airlines and U.S. Airways have a lot more aces down their sleeves when hiring a pilot than some of the regional carriers which cannot offer as tempting salaries. Nevertheless, however attractive the new carrier’s offers may be, it will still need all the help it can get.