Ameriflight Petitions FAA for SIC Exemption

 - July 16, 2013, 1:50 PM
Cargo operator Ameriflight has petitioned the FAA to allow pilots to log time while flying as SIC in operations where one pilot is required. The plan would help pilots gain the experience flying in the right seat of smaller aircraft (such as the Swearingen Metro, a type Ameriflight operates) so they can build experience and get a job flying airliners. (Photo: Matt Thurber)

As of August 1, first officers for U.S. Part 121 air carriers will need to have logged at least 1,500 hours as well as meeting other requirements. The new regulations, however, do not address the quality of the logged time, and cargo operator Ameriflight has petitioned the FAA to allow pilots to log more time when flying as second-in-command (SIC) in Part 135 cargo operations where just one pilot is required. The petition was filed in February but just recently went live for public comment.

Under certain circumstances, SIC pilots can log a small amount of time when flying on single-pilot cargo flights, but Ameriflight believes that aviation would benefit from the exemption, which, if approved, would allow other operators to file similar exemption petitions.

“SICs…would gain real-world flying experience under the supervision of a qualified captain,” Ameriflight noted. And future airline pilots would gain experience far more beneficial than logging time teaching, flying traffic watch, banner towing and so on to bridge the gap between freshly licensed sub-300-hour commercial pilots and the new 1,500-hour minimum.


This will certainly attract a lot of new pilots desperate for their 1500-hours so they can begin paying off their huge student debts. Ameriflight will be able to sell time in the right seat, making money and adding another layer of safety/deniability if anything goes wrong. Unfortunately, we'll also generate a whole lot of 1500-hour airline pilots without the valuable experience the law intends.

I agree that the second pilot of a cargo operation is worth FAR more that jusst flying as PIC for pipeline, traffic or banner towing. I know cargo hauling means get it there and that means against a schedule and weather be damned, as well as high traffic airport operations. Yes, SIC time should be valid.

I got my job with a major carrier because of flight instruction and banner towing to make extra money. Thank you very much!!!

Well something has to be done... It's not financially possible to get into this career with the way it currently is.. I can't even figure it out, at age 28, with an IT job making 60k. No one can survive an instructing job making less than 15k gross a yr while trying to pay 100k+ for college degree / flight training. I do believe that anyone flying 121 should have 1500 hours at minimum, with all of the ATP requirements as well.. This makes sense from an experiential standpoint, but financially, that's the issue. No one should ever have to "PAY" for hours after they have a commercial cert and all of their other ratings however.. If airlines need pilots, they should pay to train them.. like the way it used to be.. Just add 2 dollars to each ticket.. 1 for a livable FO salary, and the other for training new pilots. It really is that simple.
But at least Ameriflight is trying to help people get started.

"time teaching, flying traffic watch, banner towing..." is far more beneficial than watching another pilot drive a bus.

It depends on what kind of instruction you are doing Peter... If you are teaching Private Pilot VFR, then that will make you fully versed in Private Pilot VFR. Flying in a complex ATC environment in all kinds of weather, even if you are just observing and keeping track, is definitely valuable experience in my opinion. Teaching IFR /Complex/Multi is great as well... But let's face it.. Most people want to live close to their friends and family, so when they finish their ratings, they look for an instructing job close to home to build time.. FBO's teach alot more VFR than anything from what I can see..

Its bad enough what the pilot mills do, and some of the multi engine time building scheme that are out there where one guy is under the hood, another is acting as a safety pilot and a CFI siting in the back seat and they are all logging Multi PIC. I been flying for 40 years now, and It was not to long ago that you need to have at least 2500 hours and 500 hours multi just to even get a letter from a commuter airline. Ameriflight dose not pay their Pilots Jack, ask the Navajo Pilots that have to live in SF area what they are making. You young guys, don't buy into this junk. Its that simple. Teaching somebody to fly is how you learn to really fly. And there is nothing wrong with building time towing banners, that is hard work, I would rather hire a guy with tow time than some fool that sat Co joe on a Navajo and paid for the right to handle the gear leaver. Building flight time is tough, I know first hand about that, it takes in some cases years. Its not for the lazy or the just because I got a certificate I am entitled to a seat. Guys there never has been a pilot shortage, nor will there every be one. Think about it, you learn to fly so you can go to the airlines, you flight instruct to build flight time and learn the finer points of flying by teaching, that means to get to the new 1500 hour requirement you are going to have to recreate what you did certification and ratings wise at least 15 to 20 times. Ameriflight knows this, and they are looking to get pilots to fly for as close to zero as possible, and they know they will have guys standing in line to do it. They watered down the fight training so much over the last 40 years you don't even have to study to pass the written's anymore. Good luck to you young guys you are going to need it.

FAR 61.55 states that the time is logged if more than one pilot is required for the flight under certification of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is being conducted.
I have had the good fortune to fly right seat with our local Wings of Mercy organization only because the airplane owner didn't have someone else to sit there. Wings of Mercy flights must have two pilots- that is the regulation under which the flight is being conducted. I met the "letter" of the law, not the spirit. I put the hours on a back page of my log book more as a reminder than as proof of my competence or proficiency. Coming in the aftermath of the Asiana tragedy, this request is ill-timed.

I believe the requirements to have experience is long overdue. If airlines would actually pay the pilots you could attract a lot more folks. Working for 22-24k a year with such responsibility when you have someone who sits behind a desk working 8 hours and is home every night making 2 to 3 times a co-pilot's salary is the bigger problem.

Hear Hear George.. Hear Hear. The pay is the problem. Once upon a time, you worked 2 or 3 years tops at a "commuter" airline.. Then make 6 figures flying for the majors.. and that was in terms of 30 year old money value! No desk jockey should make what a pilot makes.. It just doesn't add up.

Be sure to add your comments should it open for public comment on an NPRM.

There is already a provision and a letter of interpretation that covers that issue. Employees that have the required training and certification may log SIC flight time if assigned to the flight as an SIC. There are no valid shortcuts. It is excellent time, however, they need to have the proper training and checkrides and be a crewmember.

Unless the aircraft or FAR operation requires a SIC I say no. That has been the law for I don't know how long. There are plenty of exceptions in the new law already. What Ameriflight is trying to do has been going on under the cover of darkness in vaious forms for years. Just now with the focus on pilot experience it is much harder to pull it off. Get PIC time the old fashioned way and let the chips fall where they may. Watching a single pilot BE-99 PIC drive the airplane around really is of marginal value.

Spent two years at Ameriflight and was paid an extra $3/hr for babysitting SIC pilots who paid $8000 for 150hrs right seat of a Chieftain or $11,000 for the Be-99.

Now it all makes perfect sense! Follow the money. Thanks Tom for the insight

What about FO's on part 135 operations with fewer than 10 passengers. Can they not log that time? This type of operation, if it is carefully implemented, closely replicates the part 121 training scenario, and should be a logical stepping stone. Setting minimum hour requirements is great, but there must be productive ways of building those hours.

First officers flying in any aircraft that requires two pilots can, of course, log that time, whether fewer or more than 10 seats. And the Part 135 industry will be a logical resource for new pilots to gain flight hours, once they meet the minimum requirements to fly under Part 135. The reason for the Ameriflight petition is that its airplanes and operations don't require two pilots.

Sounds like a great idea. This is real flying experience because you will be encountering lots of various experienc. The SIC would still need to be signed off by the PIC.

Ah yes, here comes the "We need loopholes" groups. "Even though we helped create this mess, we need this because blah blah blah". Too bad! That's the way it goes when you race others to the bottom on the cost leadership path. Ameriflight is just going to have to start coughing up the dough to hold onto their pilots just like the other stepping stones, at least to the ones that are left.

Want to really fix it? Start fixing the flight training industry!

If Tom is in fact correct about Ameriflight " selling " sic time.....then faa should tell A/flight to stuff it up a dark place ... The greed surfaces again...

This is bull. The intent of the law is to have experienced pilots in the cockpit of 121 and 135 operators. If we allow this, then you ,ight as well log flying time when you are playing video games.

This is bull. The intent of the law is to have experienced pilots in the cockpit of 121 and 135 operators. If we allow this, then you ,ight as well log flying time when you are playing video games.

I flew at Ameriflight in Chieftains and BE-99's with several "pay to play" SIC's. To me, they were getting a raw deal. When acting as the sole manipulator of the controls in a plane the pilot is rated for, if a type rating is required, that pilot may log pilot in command time. If the pilot is acting as SIC (acting as a crew-member) in a plane that does not require two pilots, that pilot is gaining valuable experience, not less valuable that other commercial jobs such as flight instruction, traffic watch, banner towing, etc. It is all valuable hands-on experience and should be logged as flight time to count toward the minimum 1500 hours. If Ameriflight benefits from pilots who have the resources to gain flight time the "fast way" then good for them. Ameriflight has been and continues to be a great place for pilots to get-in, get experience and get on with it. BUT, the pay EVERYWHERE at that experience level just stinks. That will only change when demand for pilots exceeds the pilot supply.

BTW, these former AMF SIC's are now enjoying great careers thanks in part to the accelerated experience they got at AMF. I was happy to have them with me most of the time, adding a good margin of safety and comfort at 4 a.m!
They should be able to log that time, if acting as a crew member. AMF may need to step up the training program for them and line captains so there is proper guidance on crew operations.

Matt - That's just it, perhaps I wasn't clear. Aircraft with fewer than ten passenger seats do not require two pilots, but there are plenty of FO's on C402 or PC12, which are legal to operate single-pilot, even on scheduled ops. These FO's cannot log their SIC time?

I flew SIC in a similar program. It was great experience as I flew every other leg, just like the airline environment. Gaining real world experience operating in the IFR environment cannot be a bad thing and should be counted towards total time.

I have been a professional pilot for over 25 years. I have never flown for the airlines nor have I ever had the desire to do so. I was never a flight instructor. I built my time hanging out during the day at little airports, towing gliders, hauling sky divers, (which, by the way, were two of the toughest jobs I've ever had), washing airplanes in return for flight time, and whatever I had to do to get to fly. I worked nights as a bartender, bouncer, limo driver, and a valet. I eventually flew VFR Part 135 flying tours, worked a slaves wage as a part time FO for part 91, flew air ambulance and freight. I did all this and raised two kids by myself. Not once did I pay for the right to "tag" along in the right seat of anything. I have known and tried to train several pilots that came from pay for play right seat positions. Very few could fly anything close to an approach and most couldn't even do even the most basic of maneuvers. I had one guy who literally begged me for a job because his father had shelled out over 200K for his flight training, including 500 hours in the right seat of a Beech 99 and the poor kid couldn't hold an altitude, heading, or talk on the radio. In my opinion, if you want something bad enough you will work as hard as you can to get it. By buying you "time" you might as well pencil whip your logbook.