Author Background

Dr. Becky Lutte is an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Aviation Institute.

Kent Lovelace is a professor and director of Aviation Industry Relations at the University of North Dakota John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.


In the era following the First Officer Qualification (FOQ) rule change, regional airlines are struggling to meet hiring needs. Prior to the rule change, pilots were willing to fly for regional airlines at low pay as a stepping-stone to a career at major airlines. Since the rule change, higher minimum qualifications requiring a greater investment for aspiring pilots appear to have impacted the appeal of this career path. This study explores that claim with the purpose of understanding the impact of the FOQ rule change on the career aspirations of collegiate aviation flight students and examining student perceptions of the regional airline career path. To address these issues, a survey of collegiate aviation flight students was conducted. The results showed that the FOQ rule change has negatively impacted the airline pilot career plans of a portion of collegiate aviation students. The primary concerns voiced were the increased time and investment needed to meet the new requirements and the negative perceptions of the regional airline career path. Regarding perceptions of the regional airline path, pay was consistently the top concern of aspiring pilots, followed by quality of life factors and the desire for a clear path to the major airlines. In addition, large numbers of aspiring pilots indicated that they are willing to fly overseas for better career opportunities. These results provide new insight into multiple factors influencing the collegiate pilot pipeline.