Flight School Association of North America Opposes US Airline Initiative

06th Jun 2022

US Regional Airline – Republic Airways LLC (Republic) has filed a petition for exemption from C.F. R. 61.160 (a) (click here to see the full request) – which is a petition for exemption for restricted ATP Training Requirements. This would allow Graduate Pilots from its own Flight School – LIFT Academy – to already join the airline at 750 hours experience.

The Flight School Association of North America (FSANA) has received much input since the petition was filed. A FSANA survey was recently conducted and 78% of the responses were opposed to the FAA agreeing to the Republic exemption.

If the FAA were to approve the Republic request, pilots would be permitted to be seated in the right seat of Republic regional jets with 750 TT. This would be a 50% reduction from the current 1,500 TT rule. Congress passed the 2010 Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act which was driven by the Colgan Air fatal accident in Buffalo, NY on February 12, 2009, which killed 49 people on board and one person on the ground.

Data in the past has shown a direct correlation between applicant practical test pass rates and periods of high instructor turnover. In other words, the more experience that a CFI has, the more likely the quality of the pilot candidate.

Bob Rockmaker, President & CEO of FSANA noted that the association has received several phone calls from flight training providers who said they would put their schools up for sale if the FAA approves the Republic exemption request. The increased CFI turnover rate will be devastating to their flight school model and decrease safety.

FSANA has identified several primary concerns with the request that include:

  • A deviation from regulatory practices that have served to produce the safest period of airline travel in the United States since they were implemented;
  • A fundamental flaw in the deviation request that attempts to indicate that the training provided in the Republic Airways process would meet and/or exceed that of military training, a statement in which FSANA does not agree;
  • A significant turnover of CFIs would result from further reduction of R-ATP experience requirements that would actually hinder the overall industry ability to produce more pilots;
  • That Republic Airways indicates that its training meets ACS/PTS standards which are a minimum standard, not an enhanced standard that would warrant a reduction in requirements due to higher standards in training provided.

There are other concerns with the exemption request but the fundamental points are that a reduction in R-ATP or ATP minimums right now will do more to harm the industry and decrease safety than enhance it in the opinion of FSANA and those in the flight training industry with whom we have received input.

FSANA welcomes input from members and the overall flight training community when issues such as this develop. The association is here to advocate on behalf of the best interests of the flight training community and our members. While FSANA knows there will be those within the industry with whom its position does not agree, FSANA feels it is critically important that it remains focused on the mission of this association while also working to improve the overall flight training community to deliver a safe, vibrant, and healthy aviation sector.

To check out FSANA’s full position paper regarding the Republic Airways’ request for Deviation from Restricted ATP minimums, click here.

Source: FSANA Update

For more information, kindly contact FSANA.

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