New rules make it hard to find small market pilots

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm •  Published: January 12, 2014
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — The airlines serving small markets in Nebraska and Iowa have had a hard time finding enough pilots since new rules took effect last year, so numerous flights have been canceled.

The canceled flights create hassles for passengers, and could make it harder for small airports to qualify for federal subsidies. Airports must serve at least 10,000 passengers a year to qualify for the subsidies.

Flight cancellations were common last year in North Platte and Scottsbluff, Neb., as well as Mason City, Iowa.

"We're having a totally unacceptable number of cancellations every day, and monthly," North Platte Regional Airport Manager Mike Sharkey said. "And our employment's down to probably a twentieth of what they used to be. Right now we're experiencing just one flight a day."

The new rules, which took effect in August, require co-pilots to log 1,500 flight hours before they can work for commercial airlines. The rules also requires co-pilots, which are also called first officers, to have a rating for the type of aircraft they fly, involving additional specific training and testing.

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