U.S. denies Republic Airways bid to reduce co-pilot training hours

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday it had denied a request by regional airline Republic Airways to reduce the number of hours needed to train a co-pilot.

The FAA said it disagreed with the airline’s argument for allowing only 750 hours of flight experience instead of 1,500 hours, Reuters reported.

Indiana-based Republic had sought an exemption that would allow graduates from its pilot training program to apply for a restricted airline transport pilot certificate with the same reduced aeronautical experience as military or former military pilots.

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Republic flies nearly 1,000 daily flights to 100 cities in 40 U.S. states and operates under major airline partner brands of American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express.

The FAA said the airline’s new training program does not provide an equivalent level of safety as the regulation requiring 1,500 hours of flight experience before a pilot may work for an airline.

Some regional airlines say they are facing a pilot shortage and are unable to find enough qualified pilots to meet demand.

Several unions had opposed Republic’s request, with some arguing that a reduction in flight hours and relaxation of standards “would jeopardize safety and result in inexperienced pilots,” the FAA said.

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