HYANNIS, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association (RACCA) applauded efforts by Congressional legislators moving, as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation, to expand training options for pilots in an effort to improve safety and address community abandonment from the growing pilot shortage.
“This is a progress toward enhancing safety while addressing the pilot shortage which threatens the $121 billion in economic activity air service brings to local economies,” said RACCA President Stan Bernstein. “These communities have largely been ignored in the debate and it is heartening to know they are now being considered. The suggestions by Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Sam Graves (R-MO) shows this is a bipartisan effort to save community air service while preserving aviation safety.”
Thune offered an amendment to the reauthorization bill, passed by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “The amendment would allow prospective pilots to receive credit toward flight-hour requirements if taking structured and disciplined training courses if completion of those training courses will enhance safety more than unstructured accumulation of flight hours,” Thune said, calling the pilot supply a serious issue.
“This is a major advance in safety,” said RACCA Chair Tim Komberec. “During the recent World Training Conference chief pilots, legacy carriers to cargo operators reported a deterioration of pilot skills during the time between college graduation and being hired. This confirms concerns the industry has been raising for years that the 1,500-hour rule actually has had a negative impact on safety.”
“There are people who have enough hours but who are incompetent,” said DeFazio, in a Politico report. “So, I think, at some point, we’ve got to take a really hard look at how we are testing and quantify real capabilities in terms of flying as opposed to just hours because, you know, someone can just go up and circle around in a plane and get hours.”
DeFazio called for an FAA review of training that assures a pilot is competent beyond simply hours. Both FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have rejected minimum hours as an appropriate metric for determining pilot skills.
The move comes after new training requirements were imposed by FAA in the wake of both regional and large carrier accidents focusing on recovery from unusual flight regimes.