Regional airline carrier Republic Airways, operating American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express regional flights, has requested the Department of Transportation (DOT) to grant an exemption from a rule requiring training pilots to log a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time prior to flying passengers on a commercial airline.
The request indicates Republic’s selection and training program is essentially equivalent to a military-based training program and requests a reduced 750-hour requirement under a “Restricted Air Transport Pilot” (R-ATP) certificate. The resulting reduced cost, Republic argues, would allow under-represented minority trainees to enter the field more readily. Republic’s filing states the program would provide “airline pilot career opportunities more accessible for qualified individuals from underrepresented groups who meet the selection criteria but may not have the financial means or academic support to pursue an aviation career path while providing a higher level of safety.”
Though not mentioned in the application to the DOT by Republic, the influx of pilots under the program would no doubt help to alleviate the pilot shortage that has resulted from the layoffs and retirements that occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic. Several airlines have recently had to reduce flight routes resulting from a lack of a sufficient number of pilots. Regional airlines, which pay less than the majors, have been particularly hard hit by the pilot shortage.