Ask a Pilot with Spencer: Do Regional Airways Abide by the Identical Security Requirements?

Safety standards

In our Ask a Pilot sequence, pilot Spencer Marker solutions considered one of your aviation-related questions every week. See previous installments right here and submit your individual to

The query

Are so-called regional airways held to the identical security requirements as bigger airways?

—Jack P.


The reply

Hello Jack. Thanks for writing in to be featured on this week’s Ask a Pilot column. Whereas subcontracting to regional carriers is a standard apply within the airline business, its function will not be broadly understood by most passengers. In truth, many passengers have in all probability flown on a regional airline and never even realized it.

That being mentioned, passengers flying within the US are capable of take pleasure in peace of thoughts, realizing they’re being transported within the most secure airline system on this planet. And regional airways are part of that system. That security and reliability is not any accident as each regional and main airways are held to similar security requirements.

What’s a regional airline?
The time period “regional airline” within the US typically refers to airways that function smaller plane, between 30 to 76 seats, most frequently subcontracted, or codeshared (carrying the bigger airline’s code and flight quantity), by bigger airline companions. Their airplanes are typically painted in the identical colours as their companion airways, often with the phrase “Specific” or “Connection” added to the branding. Regional airways embrace SkyWest, Trans States Airways, Endeavor Air, and plenty of others.

The time period “regional” itself is considerably of a misnomer. These airways fly everywhere in the nation and aren’t restricted to a selected area. Nonetheless, this wasn’t all the time the case.

Within the 1950s, regional airways started by flying small, propeller-powered plane on short-range flights inside the US. The airways grew in dimension however had been restricted by the vary of those early plane, usually being relegated to working the speedy space, or area, round the primary airport they served.

With the rise of long-range plane and the expansion of enormous “flag service” airways (international-flying airways carrying the flag of their respective international locations), smaller airways discovered their area of interest by flying short-range routes to feed passengers into the flag service’s operation.

Whereas regional carriers initially flew propeller-powered plane, the introduction of the jet-powered Bombardier CRJ sequence revolutionized the way in which regionals operated. This smooth 50-seat jet might be operated way more effectively than different small jet plane of the time. The jet might additionally lower flight instances between metropolis pairs in half in comparison with the propeller plane regional airways had been working. It was a win-win. Shortly, small airways purchased up 50-seat jets and started retiring their slower propeller-powered airplanes.

Immediately, regional airways fly each turboprop- and jet-powered plane for his or her main airline companions. Main airways make use of regional airways to fly smaller plane into an airport that may’t maintain service with a bigger jet or to extend frequency (the variety of flights per day) on a route through the use of smaller plane.

So what’s the distinction?
There are just a few variations between a regional airline and the majors. Firstly, regional airways are restricted within the dimension of plane they will fly. This is because of restrictions within the pilot contracts of the main airways that dictate how a lot flying might be contracted out to different airways.

Pilots trying to pursue a profession in aviation usually search out regional airways as their first airline jobs. Since pay on the regionals is decrease than at main airways, pilots usually view the regionals as a stepping stone to construct beneficial flight expertise earlier than shifting on to the cockpit of a jet someplace like FedEx or United.

What isn’t completely different?
Opposite to a standard false impression, regional airways are ruled by the identical algorithm as the main airways. This consists of issues like upkeep inspections, pilot relaxation guidelines and passenger dealing with amongst others.

Regional pilots additionally obtain the identical sort of coaching as pilots at bigger airways. This consists of thorough methods and simulator coaching, repetitive checks and shock evaluations because the pilot flies their month-to-month schedule. Similar to a pilot at a serious airline.

As well as, a regional airline’s operation is audited by their giant companion airways to make sure high quality management. To place it merely, simply because the airplane is smaller doesn’t imply security is lowered.

How will you inform for those who’re flying a regional?
As a passenger, you will have the proper to know in case your flight is operated by somebody apart from the airline you booked. That being mentioned, there are a handful of how to inform in case your flight is being operated by a regional airline.

Whenever you ebook your ticket, the main airline ought to clearly state what airline is working that exact flight. Whenever you arrive on the airport, your boarding move can even point out if you’ll be flying on a regional airline. The boarding move ought to clearly state the phrases “Operated by:” and an airline’s identify. If it’s not the airline you booked with, likelihood is you’re flying on a regional airline (there just a few are exceptions).

The simplest strategy to inform is to have a look at the plane. If the branding consists of the phrase “categorical”, as in United Specific as an alternative of United Airways, then you’re flying on a regional airline. On the nostril of the plane or close to the boarding door, the identify of the airline you’re truly flying might be displayed.

The dimensions of the airplane may additionally offer you a sign you’re flying with a regional. Smaller jets and turboprop plane are typically operated by an airline’s regional companions.

To sum up
Thanks once more for writing on this week, Jack. The main airways and regionals abide by the identical security guidelines and cling to the identical operational requirements. The smaller airplanes employed by the regionals aren’t solely as secure because the majors, however present beneficial transportation connections to communities that in any other case couldn’t help bigger plane.

Have you ever flown a regional airline not too long ago? Publish your story within the feedback under! And if anybody has a burning aviation query or one thing you desire to cleared up, drop us a line at to get your query featured in an upcoming Ask a Pilot column.




Spencer Marker

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