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Republic Airways asks FAA to lower 1,500 hour rule for first officers

Have you ever wanted to become an airline pilot but the required number of hours and expense kept you from pursuing that career? Republic Airways, a regional carrier for Delta, United, and American Airlines recently petitioned the FAA to reduce the required hours for airline pilots as the national pilot shortage continues. If successful, through a request by Paul Kinstedt, COO of Republic Airways, pilots will be able to be employed at Republic as a first officer at only 750 hours total time. In order to meet the 750-hour requirement, the airline is proposing a closed-loop system where they are selecting pilots to be fully trained in-house using a subsidiary training program called the LIFT Academy. For pilots who are chosen to conduct in-house training, it is important to note that the restricted ATP (R-ATP) minimums would only change for Republic Airways. Individuals who are interested in enrolling in the program will need to participate in an aptitude test where they will be selected based on their scoring. Once in the program, students will be trained from zero experience and receive all of their required pilot certificates at a lower cost than paying for the full 1,500 hours. The LIFT Academy is offered for students at $75,000, compared to the $100,000-$200,000 cost of renting an aircraft and receiving all appropriate ratings. The causes of the national pilot shortage From COVID-19 to FAA retirement mandates, there have been many causes of the largest pilot shortage of all time. When COVID-19 first revealed itself in the United States, it caused a drastic decrease in overall airline travel. Airlines reduced their flight schedules by nearly 80%, which caused massive furloughs across the entire company, pushing many pilots into an early retirement package. Now that airlines are bringing back most of their routes, they are scrambling to fill the pilot seats. Another contributing factor would be the FAA mandating pilots to retire at 65. This is problematic because the many airline pilots, which are military-trained, are nearing the mandated retirement age. Lastly, the FAA has raised the minimum hours to reach the regional airline level to 1,500 hours with the exception of the R-ATP minimum of 1,000 hours. To many, this is not an achievable goal solely because the cost can be upwards, if not greater than, $100,000. Why the ATP minimums are set at 1,500 hours Colgan Air Flight 3407 was heading from Newark, New Jersey to Buffalo, New York when the aircraft experienced an aerodynamic stall on final approach and killed all 49 passengers on board. The crash is credited to a variety of factors, including flight into icing conditions and the flight crew's improper response to a stall recovery. Following the devastating crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407, the FAA increased the required hours to reach a regional air carrier from 250 hours to 1,500 hours. Graduates of an institution of higher education who received authorization from the FAA are eligible to exercise the privileges of a restricted airline transport certificate (R-ATP) as long as they meet the training requirements specified in FAR 61.160 (b);(c);(d). FAR 61.160 states that if students are enrolled in one of the FAA's approved institutions, they qualify to go to a regional air carrier after receiving only 1,000 flight hours. The student must also hold a bachelor's degree with an aviation major and have completed at least 60 semester credit hours of aviation-related coursework. For the student who has completed more than 30 credit hours but less than 60 credit hours of aviation-related coursework, the student will only qualify to go to a regional air carrier once they have reached 1,250 flight hours. Pilots can also reach the airlines with fewer hours than the FAA requirement of 1,500 hours by serving in the military. For pilots with military experience joining an air carrier, they will only need to have logged 750 hours of total time. How to begin flight training For those who aspire to be pilots and want to begin flight training, there are many ways to reach your goals. Starting flight training can be daunting, to say the least, but don't lose hope due to the expense or the hours required to become a pilot. The first step to beginning flight training is to conduct research into a flight school with a good reputation. It is important to read the reviews of the flight school as they will reveal the honest opinions of paying customers. For example, you will want to avoid flight schools with reputations of not being able to maintain their aircraft, or don't have an adequate number of instructors. It is also worth the time to do some research into purchasing an aircraft. RELATED: A first-time buyer's guide to owning an aircraft Part 1: The Purchasing Process Ways to build flight time The day a pilot attains their commercial single (or multi) engine land license is the day the pilot really earns their wings. They can now be paid to fly, and this brings a ton of excitement and opportunity to find ways to be paid to build flight times for their airlines. There are many ways to build flight time including pipeline patrol, aerial survey, flight instruction, banner towing, glider towing, flying skydivers, scenic flight tours, and owning an aircraft. The opportunities are endless for pilots to build flight time!
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