The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has refused to allow a US regional airline to employ first officers with less experience amid a shortage because it believes the move would impact safety.
The Associated Press reported the news.
Republic Airways, which operates on behalf of American, Delta, and United Airlines, asked the FAA in April for permission to recruit pilots out of its training academy program with a minimum of 750 hours of total flight time.
Commercial co-pilots, who are second-in-command but their official title is first officer, are required to fly for at least 1,500 hours before they can serve airlines. Military pilots can qualify with fewer flying hours, however. Republic said in the request that its pilot school would "exceed the safety standards" of military aviation training.
According to a denial exemption released on Monday, the FAA disagreed.
"The FAA has determined that the relief requested is not in the public interest and would adversely affect safety," per the denial exemption.
The FAA said Republic's pilot training cannot be compared with military training programs, per the denial exemption. The agency added the argument that Republic's request would address "a perceived pilot shortage" was "overly simplistic."
Republic CEO Bryan Bedford said in a statement to AP that the airline's request would "enhance safety" because it would offer student pilots a "highly structured, mission-specific training approach." He added that the FAA's decision was disappointing but not surprising, per AP.
The FAA told Insider in a statement: "The FAA denied a request by Republic Airways to allow the airline to reduce the number of hours needed to become a co-pilot. The agency determined that 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."
Republic didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside of US operating hours.
Carriers are struggling to fill their flight schedules because of a shortage of pilots. Insider's Taylor Rains previously reported that airlines are dropping some requirements and trying to cut training hours because they are so desperate to hire more pilots.