United, Delta and American Airlines customers may soon face a scary dilemma


Regional relaxation?

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Flying peacefully means not thinking too much.

When you consider that you are in a huge metal tube 36,000 feet in the air, you will not sit back and relax.

If you spend some time thinking about whether the aircraft has been properly maintained, you cannot be at peace.

And if you’re wondering where the pilots were the previous night, your nerves may be shaking.

You get on the plane and trust that everything will be fine.

A current concern, however, is that there are not enough pilots. Every commercial airline is looking for more, but training them takes time and most of those pilots in training have to fly 1,500 hours in the air.

Now Republic Airways has petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration for an exemption to reduce that number. By half.

You may not be familiar with Republic, but it is responsible for regional flights under the auspices of United, Delta and America Airlines.

So if you book a flight with one of those airlines, you may well be on a Republic plane.

Republic now seeks approval to reduce the number of hours potential first officers need, through its own Restricted Airline Transport Pilot Certificate program. This, it claims, “will provide the benefits and rigorous curriculum and structure of the military-based trajectory training.”

Republic relies heavily on its idea of ​​promoting diversity. Specifically, it says it will enable those who lack the financial resources or academic qualifications to become pilots under the current system.

However, I feel that some customers struggle with this. If you know that your pilot has only got half the hours that were previously required, there will be inevitable trepidation.

To which Republic replies that its new training program “would not adversely affect safety and will provide a higher level of safety”.

You may be wondering why 1500 hours has become the norm. Is it like the somewhat mythical 10,000 steps to staying healthy?

It was introduced in 2013 in response to a 2009 crash of an aircraft flying for regional airline Colgan Air. The captain was accused of failing to respond appropriately and further investigation revealed that his training may have been insufficient. 50 people were killed in the crash.

Before this rule, the qualification to become a first officer simply consisted of having a commercial pilot’s license. That required only 250 hours in the air.

Currently, many aspiring pilots obtain their qualifications from commercial flight schools. Many become flight instructors to build up their hours. Others fly dusters and planes dragging fascinating banners behind them.

Republic states that her training will be more strenuous and suitable for flying a commercial aircraft.

Other countries do not have the same strict rules as the US. In Europe, for example, commercial pilots are only allowed to have 200 flying hours.

But the crux of the problem is that airlines offered early retirement to many older pilots during the pandemic. 4,400 walked out, allowing the airlines to get government money. Now that things are picking up, they have neither the pilots nor the pilot trainers to fly a larger number of flights.

And where do the major airlines hire their pilots? Many of them come from the regional airlines.

Many experts believe the FAA is unlikely to respond to the Republic’s petition. Flight safety again became a controversial topic after two Boeing 737 Max planes crashed in 2018 and 2019.

However, if Republic somehow succeeded, some passengers would certainly have expressed concern. On the other hand, many had expressed concerns about the Max before it returned to the skies.

These days I think many don’t even think about it when they are on a Max. They are too busy thinking about arriving at their destination on time.

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