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FAA Grants Westminster Grads Chance to Certify More Quickly

Press Release

September 12, 2013

Salt Lake City – The Westminster College Aviation Studies Division has received authority from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to certify its graduates for a Restricted Airline Transport Pilot (R-ATP) certificate with reduced aeronautical experience.

Normally, an ATP certificate, which is required to be a flight crew member for an airline, requires 1,500 hours of flight experience. Due to the FAA special authority, Westminster graduates will be able to qualify for the R-ATP certificate with as little as 1,000 hours of flight experience. This 500-hour savings in flight time could mean a significant cost savings and possibly allow them to qualify for the certificate one or two years earlier than their peers in other aviation programs.

“The FAA has recognized that Westminster’s aviation curriculum is one of the most comprehensive in the nation, and therefore has awarded us the ability to certify our pilots for an R-ATP certificate with fewer hours than other programs,” said Gerry Fairbairn, director of Westminster’s Aviation Studies Division. “Westminster College is the fourth college in the United States, and the only college in Utah at this time, to have received this authority.”

Prior to August 2013, pilots could be qualified to act as first officers (copilots) in airline aircraft with as little as 250 hours. However, after a regional airline crash near Buffalo, NY, Congress mandated that the FAA pass a rule requiring all airline pilots to have at least an ATP certificate. Upon implementation of the rule, the FAA realized it could cause a shortage of qualified pilots and developed a program allowing graduates of qualified aviation programs to obtain an R-ATP certificate with less flight time. Westminster College is recognized under this new program.

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