Metropolitan State University of Denver Gains FAA Approval for R-ATP Eligibility

The approval allows eligible students to hold a restricted ATP at 1,000 hours instead of 1,500.

Metropolitan State University of Denver gained approval from the FAA to allow eligible students the ability to pursue their restricted airline transport pilot (R-ATP) certificate at 1,000 flight hours—which is 500 hours fewer than the requirement for students not attending an FAA-certified ATP training program. . 

This also makes MSU Denver the only four-year, FAA-approved pilot program in the state of Colorado. 

Kevin Kuhlmann, associate chair of aviation and aerospace science, thinks the new R-ATP authority will give an upper hand to MSU’s students. 

“The most apparent reason is the reduced time of 1,000 hours for the restricted ATP making their progress to a scheduled airline more rapid,” Kuhlmann said. “In a profession where seniority equates to quality of life and increased compensation, no value can be placed on this distinct advantage.”

Why This Matters

Students that graduate from a professional pilot degree track from MSU, or similar programs, typically finish school with around 350 hours of total flight time. This leaves a gap of roughly 1,150 hours until they are eligible to pursue an ATP. To make the threshold of 1,500 hours, most students opt to work as flight instructors prior to getting a job with the airlines. The additional hours can take up to two years to accumulate. 

“In the airline world, the date of hire and your seniority mean everything in the sense of your pay and your upgrade time to be a captain.”

Chad Kendall, associate professor, Department of Aviation and Aerospace Science, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Now, MSU students can cut that time in half. Graduates will now need around 650 hours to meet the restricted ATP requirement. 

“Having a 500-hour reduction allows students to get that date of hire sooner, get into the pipeline,” Chad Kendall, an associate professor in MSU Denver’s Department of Aviation and Aerospace Science said. “In the airline world, the date of hire and your seniority mean everything in the sense of your pay and your upgrade time to be a captain.”

This approval comes in the midst of a hiring boom within the airline industry, which is recovering from the furlough of thousands of pilots during the COVID-19 pandemic. Air travel has met or exceeded prepandemic levels in most cities, while pilot shortages are worse in some cases than they were before COVID hit. 

The school now joins colleges like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of North Dakota in offering restricted ATPs. Students at MSU Denver can also gain conditional job offers prior to graduation with airlines such as United and Expressjet. MSU is also part of region 1 of the National Intercollegiate Flying Association.

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