Quality Pilot Training Not Enough to Lower Airline Minimums 


Pilot training hours requirements matter 

Republic Airlines asked for special consideration to lower the experience level of their new-hire first officers. They hoped the FAA would agree that their proprietary pilot training program was worth fewer flight hours. The Feds said no.  

The airline industry is in quite a quandary these days. Experienced pilots are either aging out due to the mandatory retirement rules or are choosing to leave voluntarily. Either way, there isn’t exactly a tsunami of qualified pilots standing around waiting to take their place. The pandemic didn’t do the industry any favors either. The airlines wanted their pilots to leave. They encouraged them to take early retirements, voluntary leaves, or whatever else they could do to eliminate the excess and keep their costs down. Eventually, the flying public missed their traveling, and once empty TSA lines queued back up with a vengeance.  

I’ll hand it to Republic Airlines; they had a pretty good idea. They have their own training academy and thought they had a firm grasp on the learning process for their flight students. They said that safety would be enhanced because of their “highly structured, mission specific training approach.” They added that their program would “exceed the safety standards” of the U.S. Military. The FAA disagreed, calling the request “overly simplistic.”  

The current regulation requires 1500 hours of flight experience for a pilot to qualify as a first officer with an airline. Republic was asking for their new-hire minimums to be 750 hours. That’s quite a difference. Yes, there are reduced requirements for military pilots and pilots with an aviation degree from an FAA-approved University, but Republic doesn’t fit into either of those categories.   

Aviation safety is an issue and will continue to be as long as we fly, so we need all the excellent pilot training we can get. Keep it coming! 

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