FAA won’t reduce hours needed to become co-pilot

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In the middle of a major shortage of pilots that affects millions of passengers, the Federal Aviation Administration has rejected a proposal to cut in half the number of hours required to become a co-pilot.

In April, Republic Airways filed a petition with the FAA to have its pilot school be treated on the same basis as military aviation training. Those who were former military pilots can get qualified to co-pilot commercial jets with 750 hours of experience, while under the current FAA regulations, in effect since 2013, civilians must have 1,500 hours. Republic, under its subsidiary Leadership In Flight Training Academy, trains pilots for several major airlines. It’s the first airline-owned flight academy.

The rule that now prevents people from being able to co-pilot impacts regional airlines the most, and has led to an overall acute shortage of pilots in the pipeline to fly the larger jets as well. As a result, airlines like Alaska Airlines have reduced the number of routes they fly.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the U.S. airline industry needs to hire 14,500 new pilots each year until 2030. Only 5,000-7,500 new pilots are coming into the pipeline annually.

Republic played the “diversity card” in its petition to the FAA, stating that the 1,500 hours that are required are creating barriers for minorities, and that “the industry has not been successful in opening opportunities for diverse students, which requires a renewed industry-wide commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” The industry has made “little progress in reaching minority industry participants via the existing avenues.”

The U.S. military is also having a hard time retaining pilots as some pilots leave for commercial service. Total Air Force, including Active, Guard, and Reserve, was short 1,650 pilots in 2021.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Is there anything the government doesn’t screw up?

    Besides control, the clear objective is to limit how much people can move about. Classic despot move.

  2. And the real reason for the commercial and military pilot shortage is….

    Lieut. Col. Theresa Long, MD told the horror story about what Biden’s mandatory jabs did to military pilots at the Alaska Medical Freedom Symposium on Saturday.

    • You are very correct. I know of many commercial pilots that chose early retirement rather than risk an experimental shot. That showed good judgment, a trait that used to be desired in the cockpit. Others, who chose the shot to keep their job, can no longer qualify for a medical certificate.

  3. Thank you, Caitlin Locke, Acting Deputy Executive Director, Flight Standards Service!
    .
    Persuasive arguments against reducing hours needed to become co-pilot appear on page 9:
    “… reduction in flight hours and relaxation of standards would jeopardize safety and result in inexperienced pilots.”
    ” Many commenters supported the 1,500 hour flight requirements for ATP certificates, characterizing the
    recent legacy of safety in commercial aviation as an outgrowth of these training requirements.”
    ” commenters stated that the 1,500 flight hours are important to ensure that pilots have experience with decision making, as one commenter stated that no two flight hours are alike.”
    “…reduction in flight hours through the program would effectively remove all checks and balances from the training system and would dangerously weaken industry standards.”
    “One commenter identified as a former (Republic Airways Company) instructor stated that, in the commenter’s experience, the quality of instruction does not compare to a military pilot program because the (Republic) curriculum is too fast-paced and rigorous, with no opportunity to make autonomous decisions and learn from mistakes.”
    “Another commenter echoed concerns that in-house training allows companies to rush through a company controlled system with little oversight.”
    “Further, Local 1224 submitted a table comparing and contrasting Republic’s proposed program with a typical military flight program, concluding that Republic’s program does not replicate a military pilot’s training.”
    .
    (mustreadalaska.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/FAA-2022-0535-0101_attachment_1.pdf)
    .
    At least one part of our federal government appears to be operating just as it was meant to do.
    .
    And for this, we sincerely thank Director Locke.

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