Republic Seeks 1500-Hour Rule Exemption


Republic Airways says it wants to open the flight deck door to more underrepresented demographics and it wants the FAA to meet it halfway in terms of pilot experience. The airline says it can safely put a new pilot in the right seat of its airliners under the supervision of a trained and experienced captain at 750 hours of experience rather than the currently mandated 1500. “The Republic R-ATP Program is designed to make 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,” the airline said in its pitch to the FAA for an exemption to the current minimum.

Right now, the main exemption to the so-called 1500-hour rule is one that allows military pilots to get an ATP at 750 hours. Republic says its R-ATP program run through its company-owned Lift Flight Academy matches or exceeds the training standards for new military pilots and is better tailored to the airliner environment. It also says the program would be far less expensive and time-consuming for new pilots, thus making it more accessible.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. I’m glad I’m not the captain who has to deal with a 750hr civilian wonder in the right seat!

    • The typical copilot on a Navy P3 or now a P8 has about 350 hours total time. This is operational flying, not just door to door. Good training and an experienced aircraft commander have kept their accident record is outstanding. The 1500 hour ATP rule was a reaction, not a response. As said below, supply, demand, and economy play a large part in who gets in the cockpit.

      • Note I said civilian pilot. I have no problem with the level of training given in the military. I did not serve in military so my experience is flying with other pilots who have. In most cases I can see a big difference in military trained pilots vs civilian training. And judging from what I have observed at CHS and LCK Air Force bases those pilots have no problem with flying a traffic pattern in C130, C17, or KC135 without a 5+ mile final.

  2. Everyone has been moaning that the Colgan ‘rule’ sets too high a bar for Part 121 wannabees. Some have moaned about the age 65 rule taking otherwise qualified and willing pilots out of the cockpit with no exceptions. We USED to have commercial rated pilots in the R seat and did OK with it all. So what’s the beef? Let ’em try it conditionally with a review after a set amount of time.

    Myself, I have heartburn with the ‘sly’ way Republic is approaching the FAA … “Let us train qualified aspirants from under represented groups.” That doesn’t sit well with me. The MOST qualified and working backward would be fair to all. So now if you’re one of a myriad of people from the you-know-what groups (who THEY pick) want to fly, Republic will make it happen so their equal opportunity numbers look better. That’s baloney. I think I’ll decide to call myself a female black tranny and get some free flight training. More woke BS.

    • Your cluelessness and filtering to see only what you want relegates you to the ash heap of society. THEY indeed, go away, just go away

      • No he has a point. This is Republic trying to get around the ATP requirement so they can go back to paying their pilots slave wages again. Pretty clever angle. The government types will be scared to death of being called a racist and will bow to it.

  3. ‘I think I’ll decide to call myself a female black tranny and get some free flight training. More woke BS.’

    What a despicable, ignorant statement to make.

    • Dave, Larry’s comment is the natural product of identity-politics workplace discrimination.
      MLK would roll in his grave, if he could behold today’s upside-down, woke world.
      I believe in equality. Period.
      No discrimination of any type, “positive” or negative.
      Whatever happened to the American ideal of a meritocracy? Really.

      • ‘Whatever happened to the American ideal of a meritocracy? Really.’

        Successfully squashed and kept inaccessible by the American aristocracy.

        Even a cursory glance at US history, Yars, shows we’ve never had one, not even close. It’s a fairy tale to tell children for esteem building and confidence as they grow into their own self-awareness. And it’s a good one at that, to build the necessary skills and uncover their talents.

        I get your point, but it’s a fantasy. So is the concept of equality. All men are not created equal, but all men should be treated as equal. We just don’t have the maturity to deal with that reality on a national scale, so we form little protective cliques in defensive mode to ward off any integration from the ‘others’ and mock their efforts (woke) to be acknowledged as equals for our gratification. Cheers, brother. 🙂

        • Here’s the deal, Dave. All men (gender neutral) ARE created equal … the moment they pop out of the womb. After that, it’s up to their environment — for childhood — and after that, it’s up to them. You want a good life … work for it. You wanna sit on your ass and complain about the unfairness of life and expect Uncle Government (or the ‘system’) to make up for your inadequacies, sorry … I ain’t buying it. I grew up in the Polish ghetto of Chicago and pulled myself right out of by sheer force of willpower. So I have neither empathy OR sympathy for those who want everything for free. THAT is the basis of my previous comment AND personal position. That is the basis for my, “despicable, ignorant statement.”

          Just the other day, I read where most of the pilot deviations of a certain airline were of females spoon fed their positions for the purpose of equality numbers. That’s just not right.

          • I loathe Elon Musk but he recently had a good retort against Bernie Sanders, who I loathe more.

            “If you want to earn as much as I do work as hard as I do”.

            Implied but not stated, “and be as smart as I am”.

          • Quoting: “All men (gender neutral) ARE created equal … the moment they pop out of the womb.”

            That’s a joke. That statement is simply untrue and hopelessly naive.

            “All men” are NOT born with equal aptitudes for anything and everything. “All men” are NOT mentally-equipped to deal with all things at the same identical level of proficiency, no matter how much training they receive.

            The fact is that people are born with very different capabilities, and it’s those differences that usually play large roles in what they choose to do in life to earn their livings – the ones willing to actually work, at least.

            “All men” may well be created equal in terms of their opportunities, at least in this country, but they’re definitely not equal based on what they grow up to be good at.

        • I’m genuinely sorry that you’re so jaded. I wish it weren’t so.

          I grew up dirt poor, and -stunningly? – made something of myself.
          Meritocracy? I’ll say this much: it wasn’t simple dumb-shit luck, and it certainly wasn’t “white privilege.”
          Was it belief in myself, and belief in post-war America?

          Go figure.

          • It seems you just made Larry’s point for him. You got where you are by talent and hard work, not because of your skin color.

            Simple survival instinct says we should want our pilots, our surgeons, anyone else our lives depend on, to be selected NOT BY THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN BUT BY THE CONTENT OF THEIR CHARACTER. (Gee, where have I heard that before???)

          • I couldn’t agree more.

            I’m first generation born in America.

            I’m a child of Holocaust (Auschwitz) survivors.

            Neither of my parents had even a grade school education and I went on (with God’s Grace) to become a very successful Rutgers/Yale/Stanford educated physician.

            God bless America.

            I’ll miss it.

          • Thanks, Yars, but the kid is alright…

            I grew up fairly wealthy, actually, and – stunningly?- became dirt poor…
            It wasn’t easy, though, I had to work really hard for it.

            But, as Mark Twain mused, “Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination “- and I had to make a choice…

        • Equal opportunity is what there should be, equal outcomes is however what the woke want and there is only one way to do that and it doesn’t work. The Soviet Union proved that.

    • I’m up for a drivers license renewal and I have the option of “M”,”F” or “X”.

      I will certainly not be selecting “M” this go around; and that’s to perturb both camps.

      If I select “F”, does that make me a better driver? Does it somehow convey extra privileges? Do I get to drive in the car pool lane? Does it speak as to my capabilities as an operator of an automobile? If I get pulled over for speeding, if the LEO calls me “sir”, can I sue?

      If I select “F”, has any biological or physical change taken place? If I walk into planned parenthood and demand an abortion, would they deny me service?

      Seems there’s more benefits selecting “F” or “X” than selecting “M”.

  4. I agree that a trial period could be a good thing. I also agree that the approach to comingle underrepresented pilots and the new proposal makes little sense. There are plenty of pilots that can’t afford things and these should be considered regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation etc.

    There are other ways to encourage underrepresented pilots and those programs should be the vehicles for them.

    • The only viable solution for “underrepresentation” of certain groups is to address the environment in which children are raised and educated. By the time they are young adults, unable to read or understand math at 9th grade levels, it is too late to “affirmatively” make them into skilled professionals into whose hands you would entrust your life or the lives of people you love.

      We need to listen to the urgent message of people like Thomas Sowell, or Congressman Byron Donalds, or Herschel Walker, or Harris Faulkner and address the “root causes” (yes, Kamala, sometimes that works!) of “underrepresentation,” not try to fix it by shoehorning unqualified adults into life-and-death jobs.

  5. Republic is reported as having among the poorest wages and working conditions of all the US regionals. Now that the industry is rabidly growling their pilots are decamping to better employers and they are having to cancel flights due to a ack of crews. So they had a choice

    1) They could increase their pay and treat there pilots better, or

    2) Get the government to reduce the standards and create what is basically an indentured servitude program to reduce the cost of pilot wages and undoubtedly increase the executive bonuses.

    And people are saying that capitalism is a rigged game only benefitting the well connected ……

    • It’s not just at the Regionals. The major airlines are currently hiring FOs from Regional airlines and bypassing more experienced pilots for the same job. Just 2 years ago to get an interview at a Major required extensive military experience or 1000 hours 121 PIC time. Now individuals with none of that experience and not even the time required to be PIC in a 121 environment are jumping into the right seat at the majors. Long term consequences? I guess we will see.

  6. The answer is to proofread. I never send so much as an e-mail without reading it over once and correcting the inevitable typos. (As I just did with this message, catching two typos before I pushed “post.”)

  7. Stephan

    Most boards have an edit function so I have gotten lazy and posted a comment and then went back to fix it later. I often found that after mulling it over a bit I ended up changing parts of the post several times to make it better.

    That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it

    • I’m with you on that. It’s great that some people have the time, skill, and discipline to edit themselves before posting, but an edit feature would be much better for the rest of us. Maybe the new classifieds can pay for the change? (I wish them well on their endeavor, and I hope they get the model set up right so they don’t simply repeat the problems of the other sites).

  8. They’re seeking a leniency in standards in right seat ATP’s but only for those who are underrepresented. I’m not sure what underrepresented really means in the US but this sounds crazy. Where I come from, this is discrimination wrapped in woke language. Perhaps they could ask this on behalf of all pilots. I seriously hope the FAA doesn’t bite. I know tons of pilots seeking that fifteen-hundred hour magic number and it’s difficult for everyone – I don’t care who you are or where you come from. My original CFI got his first regional job after teaching piles of students to reach that minimum number. I’m proud of him. He’s a captain now.

  9. I don’t know but just asking. If a flight instructor at a good flight school flew 3 hours a day 5 days a week for one year that is 780 hours, so two years worth of experience instead of one?

    My profession takes a Bachelors Degree in Geomatics and four years of work experience in the profession in responsible charge to qualify to take the State Examination to be a licensed professional. So to be a professional pilot (not to bad of a deal).

    • As a Captain at a Regional Airline I couldn’t agree more. Short cuts to the “Dream Job” at a major airline are not a good idea and different standards in training are even worse. Airlines are bending over backwards to push certain groups through the training when others are let go with the same training record. I have flown with more than a few FOs that require more training or a different job but the percentage seems to be increasing.

  10. Hundreds of hours instructing in a 172 doesn’t help prepare to be an airline pilot, at all. Fully support Republic’s motion to create a reasonable exception to the ATP rule. By reasonable, I mean someone who has undergone training in a jet sim, brought into a mentorship situation under the tutelage of a check airman, etc… Current regional captains may not like the idea, which is likely related to the reality that they too are marginally competent because they hurriedly were flowed to the left seat – convinced that they were ready by their short-staffed company. Under the supervision of an experienced captain, an FO with 750 hours can be ready to do his/her job very competently.

    • Some can, some can’t. Don’t really disagree 1500 hours are arbitrary, but that extra time does help with airmanship and decision making in any flying environment. As a Line Check Airman I see it all, both good and bad. One thing for certain, there is no substitute for the right experience and training when dozens to hundreds of lives are at risk.

  11. For many years, the right seat was occupied by low time pilots. It was working just fine until Colgan. In the early ’60s, United ran ads saying that if you had a private license and would go get your commercial and instrument, they would put you into their hiring program right now. A friend of mine had just gotten his commercial, instrument, and minimum multi time in an Apache through a USAF Aero Club, was hired immediately as a North Central FO in a Convair. He said the training kicked his ass as did some of the Captains he flew with. He retired as a very successful B747 Captain. So low time hires work just fine if the airline has demanding and high standards then. USAF lets their young new pilot trainees loose flying jets solo with less than 200 hrs. It’s the training program and the demands that make low time hire work. Also though, back when, the new low time FO was first flying a prop of some type. An additional 1000 hours as a C172 CFI hasn’t given that pilot any more real experience than he/she probably had at 500 hrs. As I said, low time FOs worked just fine for many years.

    • You mean back in the day when the Captain looked at the FO and said “Sit down, shut up and don’t touch anything I don’t tell you to”? LOL

      You are absolutely right on the training side but with DEI lowering training standards, the high cost of flight training, lower numbers of pilots and the larger pool of commercial pilots required due to the sheer volume increases in commercial flying the past 60 years the competency standards are lower. They probably shouldn’t be, but there is no doubt they are.

  12. …interesting that there hasn’t been a single mention of Lufthansa’s Ab Initio program in this thread. Students literally began the selection process in high school, then came to AZ and did their initial instruction in F-33 Bonanzas and Barons, spin training in T-34s then back to Bremen for turbine work in Cheyennes, and finally into a 737 sim. Given their rather good safety record, I’d say it’s worked out. Oh, and you had to pay back every penny, out of your salary, that they spent to train you. The program has moved, primarily, to the EU; interestingly, the EASA now grants what is referred to as a “frozen” ATPL (Air Transport Pilot license) which is basically a Commercial/Instrument ticket, and a full ATP at 1500 hours, 500 of which are logged in two person cockpits. Lastly, can we move beyond the “woke” this and “tranny” that? I really couldn’t care less if the cockpit is filled with Barbra Streisand impersonating drag queens who are married to aardvarks if said crew can shoot an approach to minimums at night and get me home.

  13. There are a few threads in this discussion.
    1. In the US, due to an adequate supply of ex-military pilots, especially through the 1970’s and perhaps beyond; there was no need for airlines to be concerned about ab-initio pilot training. As I recall (someone may correct me) Herb Kelleher when he co-founded Southwest Airplanes, he hired all the pilots from a USAF squadron that flew the military version of the B737. Millions of dollars were spent training military pilots funded by taxpayer money which favored US airlines and, in this case, free to SWA. The military no longer is a main source of airline pilots.
    2. Internationally, ab-initio training funded by airlines is the standard. Is there something that we can learn about ab-initio training? Paradoxically, there are a number of US flight schools which provide ab-initio training for foreign airlines.
    3. Once passed 50 hours dual-given in a C172 doing pattern work, any additional hours don’t add much value in terms of experience. What is missing is working in the IFR environment. This might imply that the CFI pathway is not the best, maybe “freight-dog” pathway or charter is better, assuming that opportunities are there. The challenge for CFIs qualifying for the ATP are the 50 hrs. of multi-time (FAR 61.159 (a)(3)) and the 500 hrs. PIC cross country time (FAR 61.159 (a)(1)). For the latter, all restricted-ATP options from 750 to 1500 hours accept 200 hrs. PIC cross country flights. (FAR 61.160 (e)).

    • A lot of people got their time flying checks at night in beat up old twins in all kinds of weather. That opportunity (And risk) is long gone now.

  14. Really depends on the individual and their training.

    Some pilots are marginal, shouldn’t be flying pax. People from the old Avsig forum remember reports that a nice guy was not suitable to fly with again.

    I’ve told my story of watching newer pilots on check rides in the Herc, great difference.

    As for reverse racism, Republic is pandering as that gets points with gummint these days.

    I’ve told the story of Marg Fane flying the BC coast in the 1950s.

    The questions as to demographics are:
    – attractiveness of the career (airline flying if questionable for many women)
    – awareness of the career (real awareness, people are addressing that)
    – false claims of discrimination are politically correct, seen in engineering as well (one young lady had to speak out and say she had done fine, I also point out that people help: old males for example encourage young women, but some religions advocate against women in engineering)
    – getting early experience seems to be a limitation, Republic’s scheme may help that

    As for psychographics, women tend to think carefully about a career, perhaps investigate more. Alaska Airlines is losing pilots because of unhappiness of pilots with management’s avoidance of learning from the past and planning ahead – for years now. (Recall its Horizon subsidiary had to contract some flying out because it failed to hire enough pilots.)

    • I suspect the pilot who did not take the hint of another pilot on a check ride was not keeping situational awareness to detect when something goes wrong.

      I don’t know what he did wrong, wish I’d asked the hinter what he saw that prompted him to ask the checkee where he was.

      I know the hinter went on to do very well for the airline, do not know what happened to the checkee. I met one 3rd-seater who came from instructing at a flight school (a popular path in those days).

  15. Assuming that the title is correct, it is a bit concerning: Republic Seeks 1500-Hour Rule Exemption (referring to the status of Republic). There are four pathways to the restricted-ATP from 750 to 1500 hrs. (total) – all are covered in FAR 61.160. If true for Republic, why can’t they find qualitied pilots with 750, 1000 and 1250 hrs.? Seems that they are only seeing the 1500 hrs. applicants.
    Furthermore, this statement is misleading: Right now, the main exemption to the so-called 1500-hour rule is one that allows military pilots to get an ATP at 750 hours. While true for military pilots, it is not it does not consider 1000 and 1250 hr. options. See FAR 61.160.

  16. Females have been out flying and dying for most of the powered flight era. One very early one met several of the PC criteria – female, black African blood, native American blood, and from Texas. (Media like to slice and dice, probably rolled through 40-umpty states as ‘first female pilot in’. (I forget how many states the US had then, aside from HI some of the present states came from slicing up such as the Oklahoma Territories and the Dakota Territories). By the time HI was accepted it probably already had many female pilots, even before Mimi Johnson’s time.)

    Yes, she was discriminated against – jerk Curtis blocked throttle travel to prevent her from being able to lift off despite charging her for flight training, later wised up and hired her. (She diagnosed the problem – found the block of wood, threw it aside, and proceeded to take off, to his horror – apparently believed she would crash despite his training. Not a clear thinker.)

    Amusing tidbit about the Dakotas. Wikipedia says “President Benjamin Harrison shuffled the statehood papers before signing them so that no one could tell which became a state first; consequently, the two states are officially numbered in alphabetical order.” Take that! media babblers. :-o)

    • Eula Pearl Carter Scott soloed at age 13 in 1929.

      Youngest in Oklahoma, youngest of Chickasaw descent, …… But I’ll bet she ignored points, she just wanted to fly.

      And hey! her father encouraged her, purchased an airplane for her during her flight training. (Did I ever suggest males help females in careers? 😉

      Quit flying after bearing second child, because of risk of her children being left without a mother (she was a stunt pilot). (Did I ever suggest motherhood as a discouragement for a flying career? 😉

      (Blanche Scott was the person jerk Curtis discriminated against. First woman to fly, and first woman test pilot (for Martin).
      The person in TX was someone else.)

      The key of course is individual rights protected by defense and justice systems. Work hard and smart to do what you want, within your innate talents. (Dancing and basketball are not careers for me, motherhood is fundamentally blocked. :-o)

      There’s a scene in Atlas Shrugged in which a young Dagny Taggart is told that women should not do some kind of work. Nonsense! she decided for herself and proceeded to do what she wanted. (In that famous best-selling novel she ran a railroad, and was a design engineer on the side.)

  17. I am ok with 750 hours if it is a well designed program with lots of training and even a solo requirement to do a number of cross country flights with conditions like at night, in the mountains high altitude, actual short fields, appropriate instruments flights in actual weather in an aircraft like a 182 or cirrus. etc. to get actual experience.

    I took training from experienced instructors for my instrument refresher ( I had not flown for 8 years, family, business etc) that had never been outside of 60 miles from home. we went on a night cross country and he was incredibly scared. even though he had an ATP he was not qualified to go anywhere as he had not experienced any real. I had done a lot of that type of cross country flying and I knew far more about dealing with actual weather. the prospect of light rime being possible scared him silly.

    • Amazing.

      Having ‘been around’ is a good experience. 😉

      (Seemingly lacking in some pilots for US Majors in the old Avisg forum – did not really understand airliner performance. Most of those airlines went broke.)

  18. Pretty clever of Republic, if the FAA will be forced to accept this for fear of being labeled racist. Republic (And other lines which will follow) will be able to go back to the bad old days of what was basically slave labor for SICs paying them enough to just disqualify for food stamps. A more reasonable approach would be to make the restricted ATP 1000 hours for SIC instead of 1500 or the other variables. Also allow pilots between 65 and 70 be SIC. I think these two things will help somewhat for now. Eventually the airlines are going to have to do ab initio training like Lufthansa and others. That is the only way. Hopefully the keep the “wokeness” out of it and accept applicants on merit only.

  19. I’d suggest we try really listening to each other, but since it seems dangerous to talk about these subjects, I’m afraid it’s pointless.

    I will say, having no airline experience, that it would seem that if an airline has a set program to train pilots from soup to nuts, and if they are willing to take responsibility for having done that, they could get in 750 hours what the hodgepodge system does in 1500 hours.

    I agree the racial equality spin seems crass. I don’t believe true equality is possible nor meritocracy. I do believe attempts to reach it are criminally stupid, and often led by egotistical seekers of power and fame. Our country has improved and has regressed. We are at a point where we badly need more individualism and meritocracy again. We need more self responsibility. Failure to bend the curve in the right direction inevitably leads to where we are. We are in a state where people are now demanding immediate and revolutionary change.

  20. Nothing more than a clever way to try and solve their pilot problems by virtue signaling, pandering, and wokeism, where equity not equality is the issue. What is not said is how much money they are asking from the government. One only has to look at the numerous appointments by the Biden admin to see that meritocracy is dead and equity and political leanings are the games of the day, regardless of experience or qualifications. Reverse discrimination is what is being promoted and it is just as illegal as any other type of discrimination. Cockpit aviation is no place for social experiments and political correctness. Asking for a variance of the 1500 hour rule is and should be completely separate from any mention of “under represented” or any other euphemism for any group other than white males.

  21. Canada still only requires a CPL and 250 hours to be the FO on a CAR 705 ( i.e. Part 121) air carrier. In late 2019 just before COVID killed the industry pilots were going from flight school to Captain of a Regional jet in less than 2 years. They had no PIC time since the flight school and could be paired with a 300 hour FO.

    This had never happened before because regional typically hired pilots with 3000+ hrs with a lot of real world experience. However 2 things happened

    1) An explosion in demand for pilots from new ULCC and expanded regionals started to exceed the supply, and

    2) Airline executives realized they could wave the shiny 70 seat airliner in front of brand new pilots who would be so star struck they would work for peanuts and they would not leave for greener pastures because they had no experience, and

    3) The airlines started having real trouble upgrading the less than 1700- 1800 hr zero to hero pilots who could hold a Captains bid but could not pass the Captains course. Did this lead to a lowering of standards, probably not at the time but I think only because COVID stopped the lunacy

    You can’t train experience, ultimately you have to live it. Even instructing in a C 172, you are the PIC and have to actually make a decision.

    The US was smart to insist on an ATPL or restricted ATPL for all Part 121 flying. It helps weed out the poseurs and forced the airlines to pay a decent wage and not abuse their pilots.

    • The only thing that should be forcing airlines to pay a decent wage is unwillingness of people to take the job. Young people wouldn’t take the job if they did not see the big money being paid some pilots.

      It’s not just the airline managers causing young people to take the low wage. The unions and the government have a hand in it.

      Perhaps the unions ought to start taking a little responsibility for educating the wannabes who are spending big dough to join their little exploitation racket. Make sure they know that if their the kind of person who cannot do the top jobs, they won’t be getting top pay just by sitting in the cockpit for 20 plus years.

    • You need two things to be a good pilot: experience, and natural ability (well three things, training). The 1500 hour rule reduces the talent pool that even start flight training, since talented kids have lots of options, and staring down the challenge of finding 1500 hours makes a career in finance or coding look pretty good by comparison.

      That means the airlines have a smaller talent pool to hire from, even though the pool is more experienced. And airlines have the choice: either shut down routes and sell airplanes because they can’t find good pilots, or let the bottom of the barrel 1500-hour kids in the cockpit. So what happens? If you can get 1500 hours you’re guaranteed a job at some airline even if you’re terrible.

  22. The flight 3407 families group has been reported as getting ready to fight this proposal. With their opposition along with, for what it is worth, New York Senator Schumer, I seriously doubt this proposal will go anywhere.