(CNN) — Federal regulators have soundly rejected an airline’s controversial request to scale back industrial pilot hiring requirements in half to sort out the worldwide pilot scarcity.
In April, regional airline Republic Airways requested the Federal Aviation Administration to permit graduates of Republic’s personal LIFT Academy to change into airline co-pilots with 750 hours of flight expertise, not the everyday 1,500 flight hours required of latest airline pilots.
On Monday, the FAA stated it denied Republic’s request after the company “determined that the airline’s new training program does not provide an equivalent level of safety as the regulation requiring 1,500 hours of flight experience before a pilot may work for an airline.”
Republic is a regional airline primarily based in Indianapolis that claims it operates 1,000 day by day flights for American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express.
What Republic Airways wished
Republic asserted in its preliminary request to the FAA that its in-house coaching program was on par with the pains of army flight coaching. Therefore, the service stated, an FAA regulation permitting army pilots to be employed by airways with much less expertise must be prolonged to Republic.
“Through its rigorous curriculum and structure, this Program will exceed the safety standards of the military R-ATP [training program],” Republic argued, including its program would “provide a higher level of safety.”
The curriculum consists of classroom and flight time, mentorship and frequent examinations. Failing a take a look at, Republic proposed, would put a pupil on the traditional pathway to a 1,500-hour license.
Graduates who would have acquired a particular pilots license beneath this program would have then acquired a full license after they reached 1,500 hours.
Republic argued its program would improve variety within the pilot ranks. Amassing the 1,500 hours sometimes entails a school diploma, low-wage work and renting plane to fly — an expense that Republic stated can value from $170,000 to $220,000.
“Four-year degree program costs can be a significant barrier for some highly qualified students and puts pilot training out of reach, especially those in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities,” Republic’s proposal stated.
The Regional Airline Association, representing Republic and its peer airways, had supported the Republic proposal. It stated approving this system would acknowledge “that flight time is not the only component to developing a safe and qualified pilot.”
Faye Malarkey Black, CEO and president of the affiliation issued the next assertion on Monday in response to the FAA choice:
“We are still reviewing FAA’s decision. It is the mission of all airlines to have robust safety programs and to improve flight training on a continuous basis.
The first focus must be safety. Expanding structured training pathways would improve access for people who can’t access a pilot career today.”
Union opposition to plan
The Air Line Pilots Association, the biggest pilot union, had strongly opposed the Republic program.
“This decision is a huge win for aviation safety and for the flying public,” Captain Joe DePete, ALPA’s president, stated in a response assertion Monday afternoon.
“The FAA’s findings confirm what we’ve said all along about Republic’s request — that it is not in the public interest and would adversely affect safety.
“Additionally, in its official petition denial, the FAA affirmed its help for the regulatory necessities which might be in place to facilitate the qualification of pilots — the aviation security legislation that has decreased aviation fatalities by 99.8 % since its implementation.”
The US requirement for 1,500 hours is far higher than the entry-level in many other countries. The Department of Transportation inspector general wrote in a report earlier this year that 18 of 29 countries it reviewed require first officers have only 240 hours.
The United States once had a lower requirement for co-pilots — 250 hours — but lawmakers set the higher bar after the 2009 Colgan Air crash that killed 50 people. Investigators said the commuter plane’s pilots did not properly recognize and respond to the plane stalling a few miles out from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport.
Opponents of decreasing the first officer hours include Sully Sullenberger, the retired airline captain who famously landed a US Airways jet on the Hudson River in New York.
“There are not any shortcuts to expertise. There isn’t any shortcut to security. The requirements are the requirements as a result of they’re obligatory,” he informed a congressional panel in 2015.