The pilots who fly for regional airlines are professional aviators with the proven experience and competence to meet the highest safety standards. 

One Standard of Safety

Regional pilots must meet the same high, federally mandated standards as pilots at mainline carriers. They have to pass a rigorous evaluation process before they are hired. Every regional airline has a rigorous testing and screening process, selecting only the best pilots. 

The captain on every regional airline flight has an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, the highest level of certification issued by the FAA and the same as that carried by pilots on major airlines. First officers, also known as co-pilots, are tested to the same ATP standards. 

As a result, regional airline pilots have proven experience and skills. Many regional airline pilots have flown several times the minimum hours required by the FAA. While the FAA mandates 1,500 hours of flying experience for captains and 250 hours for first officers, at Piedmont Airlines, captains average 9,200 hours and first officers average 1,900. At SkyWest, captains average 11,570 hours and first officers average 3,285.

Regional airline pilots fly under the same FAA flight and duty time regulations as the major airlines. These regulations set maximum hours and mandatory rest periods.

Our Pilots Are Dedicated Professionals

At regional airlines, veteran pilots earn as much as $150,000 a year and most belong to a labor union. At both major airlines and regional airlines, pilots begin their careers “in the right seat,” as first officers flying alongside experienced pilots. Base salaries are supplemented by per diem allowances and competitive benefit packages.

Going Beyond the Requirements

In many areas, regional airlines have set internal safety standards that exceed the minimum requirements established by the FAA, including fatigue management and pilot training. For example, American Eagle requires pilots have a minimum of 10 hours of rest before a shift and limits total hours flown in a month to 91 hours, while the FAA mandates nine hours of rest before a shift and caps total hours flown in a month at 100 hours. 

The level of flying experience and training required for new hires at every regional airline exceeds FAA minimum standards. Every regional carrier requires newly hired pilots to undergo thorough training before they begin flying, regardless of their prior individual experience level. This includes weeks of classroom instruction, followed by comprehensive testing behind the controls of the specific class of aircraft that they are going to be flying. Pilots must successfully complete additional training every year.

For example, while the FAA requires new hires to undergo 80 hours of classroom instruction and 15 hours of flight training, CommutAir requires 122.5 hours of classroom time and 40 hours of flight training.

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Regional Airline industry.

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