Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Experience standards for pilot certification are typically established with the objective of ensuring aviation safety. Public Law 111‐216 requires all airline pilots in the US to have an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate by August, 2013. A pending proposal from the FAA would permit graduates of accredited, four‐year collegiate aviation programs to obtain a restricted ATP certificate with 1,000 hours of flight time. Concern has been expressed that the 1,000 hour minimum for collegiate program graduates is arbitrary, excessive, and poorly justified, in light of the extensive, structured academic training provided by these institutions. This paper reviews existing literature on pilot performance in the regional airline environment to determine if the 1,000 hour standard is supported by objective evidence. Research suggests there is little objective difference in the technical and non‐technical performance of low‐time versus high‐time pilots in the regional airline environment. Several studies also indicate collegiate aviation program graduates with less than 1,000 hours achieve significantly better outcomes in regional airline pilot training than more experienced trainees. Lastly, analysis of accident data suggests a mandated increase in required flight time for first officers will have little substantive impact in preventing airline accidents. Several changes are recommended to realign the FAA’s proposed standard with existing literature and expert recommendations. Avenues for future investigation are also discussed.