The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has rejected a request from a regional air carrier to hire less-experienced flight crew to address the ongoing pilot shortage.
American regional airline Republic Airways, which operates flights for a few other US air carriers, including United Express, Delta Connection, and American Eagle, has faced a pilot shortage for the past few years. Back in April 2022, the airline asked the FAA for permission to hire pilots with at least 750 hours of flying experience for a first officer role if they complete the airline’s training program, which could be comparable to military flight training.
However, on September 19, 2022, the FAA said that it would be denying the request because it could significantly reduce safety.
“The FAA disagrees with reducing the amount of required aeronautical experience at this time. Further, the FAA finds that, if a reduction in hours was appropriate, an exemption is not the appropriate vehicle with which to make such a determination,” the FAA’s Denial of Exemption reads.
“The FAA disagrees that the reduction of R-ATP flight hours will address a perceived pilot shortage, reduced commercial aviation services to small communities, or recruitment within diverse talent pools,” it continues.
“The FAA maintains that a reduction of hours is an inappropriate vehicle to lower part 61 pilot certification standards for these reasons. First, the FAA lacks statutory authority to regulate based on a perceived shortage of pilots. The FAA considers it to be of greater public interest to ensure and maintain the level of safety provided by the foundation of integrated aviation education,” the authority concluded.
When will the FAA allow an airline to hire a less-experienced pilot?
As per FAA standards, a first officer aiming to work for a commercial airline in the United States is required to have at least 1,500 flight hours to fly a commercial aircraft. However, there are some exemptions to this rule. For instance, a pilot who has not gained the required minimum flight hours can still qualify for a job in an airline with less flight experience if a person has prior military experience or a specific university degree.
According to the FAA, to be able to apply for an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane category multiengine class rating or an airline transport pilot certificate concurrently with a multiengine airplane type rating while having only 750 hours of flying experience, a pilot has to present a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty that the person was honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces or an official U.S. Armed Forces record that shows the pilot is currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The applicant is also required to provide an official U.S. Armed Forces record detailing that the person graduated from a U.S. Armed Forces undergraduate pilot training school and received a rating qualification as a military pilot.