A Great First Stop for Second In Command Training

A Great First Stop for Second In Command Training

  • October
  • 04
  • 2022
  • Advanced Aircrew Academy

We have previously highlighted the challenges (and expense) of seeking the magical 1500 hours of flight time required before pilots may work at a Part 121 airline. However, we should also discuss a unique opportunity for Part 135 pilots to gain required experience through the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Part 135 Second in Command Professional Development Program (SIC PDP). While the extensive details of this program can be found in Advisory Circular (AC) 135-43, it essentially allows pilots to log hours as an SIC of a single-pilot aircraft to gain more realistic air carrier experience in order to expedite the flying hour requirements while gaining necessary proficiency to conduct safe aviation operations. CFR 135.99 is also a good reference for the details of the program.

This program not only gives opportunities for new aviators to gain experience, but it also serves to strengthen safety of operations by having two sets of eyes and ears during flight, when that advantage may not have otherwise existed.

The SIC PDP essentially allows a pilot employed by a Part 135 air carrier and serving as second-in-command in a multi-engine airplane or single-engine turbine-powered airplane to log SIC flight during operations that do not typically require a second pilot. It also allows flight time gained in the program to be used to meet certain aeronautical requirements of Part 61 for an ATP certificate and certain aeronautical experiences requirements of Part 135.

As you might expect, the FAA AC does contain a list of specific requirements in order for individuals to participate in the SIC PDP.

First, to log flight time under the program, the operation must be in a multi-engine airplane or single-engine turbine airplane that does not require a second pilot. The aircraft utilized must also contain an independent set of controls for the SIC along with independent flight instrumentation, oxygen equipment, and communication equipment for the second pilot.

Next, the air carrier will receive authorization through Operations Specification A062 which requires an FAA-approved SIC training program and have manuals and an SOP that detail procedures for two-pilot operations. This means the SIC PDP is meant to build off existing training and not serve as a sole resource for skills and mentoring. In fact, PICs who wish to be a part of the program must also complete an approved form of mentoring training to ensure they are a trained, helpful resource for junior pilots and must have been fully qualified as a captain for at least the previous six calendar-months. Advanced Aircrew Academy can provide mentoring training for both PICs and SICs to complete the standard new hire training program as any pilot for the company would.

Lastly, the air carrier must have a data collection and analysis process to determine effectiveness of the SIC PDP. This requirement is particularly useful as we continue to hone our training and make adjustments, as necessary, to ensure the program is able to mature and grow with our ever-changing and adapting aviation environment.

Before embarking on the SIC PDP, pilots should note that while time in the program can count toward an FAA ATP rating, it does not count towards an ICAO ATP. This means any participant applying for an FAA ATP will have a limitation on their airman certification until they demonstrate to the FAA they have additional required hours outside of an SIC PDP. Still, this opportunity is one that should be utilized whenever possible as it works to strengthen both the new and experienced pilots alike. In a tight job market for pilots, the SIC PDP can also expand the pool of pilots available to hire.