LONDON – On September 19, it has been announced that the U.S FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) rejected a request from the American regional operator, Republic Airways, its request to be exempt from the 1,500 hours flying time rule for air transport first officers.
FAA’s Deny of Request
In the midst of many carriers across the globe suffering from pilot shortages, many American regional operators are the ones being more heavily affected by this shortage, Republic Airways has approached the FAA for the carrier to be exempt from the 1,500 hours flying time rule.
The carrier had submitted a proposal to the aviation authority whereby instead of the 1,500 hours flying time threshold would be reduced to 750 hours and will be done through the carrier’s in-house training program.
The FAA has since rejected this request from Republic Airways citing that the 750 hours flying time rule would fail to provide an equivalent level of satay to what the 1,500 hours rule does.
The carrier currently provides regional services across North America for three of the U.S. ‘Big Four’ carriers, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.
Republic Airways’ in-house training program known as LIFT (Leadership in Flight Training Academy) would be responsible for training their pilots whereby graduates would be able to apply for a restricted air transport pilot license (R-ATP) with the same flight hour requirement that military or ex-military pilots would need to transition across into the commercial aviation industry.
Due to the lack of pilots for regional carriers, many have had to significantly reduce their operations out of small and medium-sized cities, which has of course resulted in a drop in air travel service to those communities, until pilots can be hired for capacity to be reintroduced back into those communities.
Republic Airways has mentioned that their request for the 750 hours rule will help communities by enabling more pilots to graduate through the training program, whilst ensuring the highest level of safety.
Republic Airways said, “Providing comprehensive and structured training for civilian pilots through training that satisfies the spirit of regulations while enhancing safety and providing a benefit to the public.”
As well as pushing these remarks forward to the FAA, Republic Airways has also done some analysis on how much the training would cost through three different avenues, these are as follows –
- Private University Programs – $219,600
- Public University Programs – $171,333
- Republic’s LIFT Program – $75,000
As you can see their in-house LIFT training program comes out lots cheaper than other funded programs, which also incur higher hours being obtained by the pilots before they are able to begin commercial operations.
The FAA stated in its ruling on the request from Republic Airways, saying, “The FAA finds that the supporting materials and LIFT historical data does not sufficiently support Republic’s claim that the Republic R-ATP Program is sufficiently comparable to the training program of a military branch to warrant a reduction in flight hours.”
“Specifically, while Republic provides the overarching structure of its training program, the FAA does not find that the curriculum facilitates the rigorous and comprehensive training reflected in military training.”
It is evident that Republic Airways is pushing the regulator for an easier avenue to be created whereby it will enable more pilots to come through into the industry at a much faster rate than at present, which will help combat the shortage and will grant the return of capacity to those communities that have since suffered from reduced services across North America.