In response to the debilitating pilot shortage impacting every airline, the FAA is considering key changes to the airline transport pilot (ATP) rating in an effort to get crews into cockpits faster.

The ATP rating is the holy grail of achievement and key to that sought after job in the cockpit of an airliner. Most of the requirements are straightforward: 1500 hours of experience, training, written test, and a checkride. It’s all spelled out in the FARs under ATP requirements.

Scroll down on that page to section “C” and you’ll find the single barrier keeping so many pilots with a logbook full of time away from that dream job: “An applicant must be of good moral character.”

According to Mike Hunt, FAA designated pilot examiner (DPE), “I turn away so many high time general aviation pilots due that pesky rule. The lack of an affordable and clear career path to becoming an airline pilot forces people to find creative ways to make ends meet and sometimes they wind up breaking laws while chasing their dream.”

Aviation Daily News: “What kinds of criminals are we talking about?”

Mike Hunt: “Well, there was this young lady once with pretty blonde hair who had been arrested for prostitution 37 times. She told me her dream was to someday fly triple engine jets, write books, and teach. It wasn’t easy telling her no as she was putting her clothes back on in my office.”

Aviation Daily News: “What ever happened to her?”

Mike Hunt: “I don’t know. She was very determined and perhaps got another examiner to look the other way. I mean, that’s the problem with this whole moral character thing…it’s really subjective. We need pilots to fly planes which has nothing to do with a few bad decisions they made along the way.”

Aviation Daily News called the FAA for comment; however, we couldn’t get a live person on the phone due to the government shutdown.