Scope clause

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A scope clause is part of a contract between an airline and a pilot union. Generally, these clauses are used by the union of a major airline to limit the number and/or size of aircraft that airline may contract out to a Regional airline. The goal is to protect union jobs at the major airline from being eliminated by regional airlines operating larger aircraft.[1]

Influence on airlines[edit]

Scope clauses place restrictions on how many and what size of aircraft a regional airline may operate. Some holding companies operate a large number of individual airlines, with each airline's fleet specifically tuned to the scope clause of that airline's contracted major carrier.[2] Republic Airways Holdings is an example of a company structured in this manner.

Influence on aircraft manufacturers[edit]

Scope clauses have a major influence on manufacturers of regional aircraft. Manufacturers will create airplanes specifically tuned to the scope clauses of most airlines. For this reason and others, regional aircraft tend to be manufactured in families, and competing regional aircraft will often have identical seating capacity.[3]

Support and criticism[edit]

Scope clauses are supported as a means of saving union jobs. Additionally, major airline pilots are usually higher paid than regional pilots, and there is a perceived safety advantage in favor of major airlines. Criticism of scope clauses centers on the limits they place on the regional airlines they target. They are seen as a way of artificially maintaining the pay of major airline pilots when regional pilots will in theory fly the same size airplanes for less pay.[4]


  1. ^ Burdette, Mark. "A case of Real Job Protection". Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  2. ^ Flint, Perry. "NWA aims to end scope clause restrictions on large RJs in new pilot contract". Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Pilcher, James. "Delta 'scope' limiting growth". Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Ten things every airline pilot should know about scope". Retrieved 13 November 2010.