The National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, expressing support for S.1405, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2017, and urging lawmakers to retain the Thune Amendment, which creates more avenues for pilots in training to gain credit toward the 1,500 hours of experience required for airline transport pilot (ATP) certification.
To respond to President Trump’s direction in E.O. 13771, E.O. 13777, and E.O. 13783, as well as other legal authorities, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) requested input from the public on existing regulations and other agency actions that are good candidates for repeal, replacement, or modification. NASAO submitted a comment suggesting a new regulatory docket be opened, to amend or supplement 14 CFR 61.160, giving FAA the ability to allow additional structured training courses to be credited toward the required flight hours when determined the training would enhance safety.
“Now that Congress has passed an extension, we are hopeful that progress will be made on the Senate’s long-term FAA reauthorization bill, which includes much-needed, data-driven reforms to the 1,500 hour rule,” said NASAO President and CEO Mark Kimberling. “Instead of spending time on a proverbial solution in search of a problem with the House proposal to privatize air traffic control, Congress should now take action on what is clearly the real and immediate threat to our national aviation system — the pilot shortage issue.”
Implemented in response to the tragic crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in 2009, the 2013 Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements for Air Carrier Operations rule (FOQ rule), also referred to as the “1,500 rule,” increased flight hour requirements from 250 to 1,500 for ATP certification. This change dramatically increased the time and cost to reach the right seat of a regional airliner, thereby decreasing the supply of pilots entering the profession when we need them most.”
“Several new reports have been released in recent months that continue to reaffirm the fact that there are, inarguably, fundamental flaws with the 1,500 hour rule. It would be a real disservice to aspiring pilots, the traveling public, and small communities across the country if Congress were to ignore the evidence that there is no positive correlation between increased flight hours and pilot proficiency, and the pilot shortage is being unnecessarily exacerbated by a well-intended, but misguided rule.”
“The Colgan crash was a tragedy for all of us — and safety is paramount for everyone in the aviation community without compromise. It’s unfortunate that the Thune Amendment has been disingenuously mischaracterized as deprioritizing safety in favor of meeting industry demands as some sort of a trade off. As a former first officer myself, I can personally attest to the fact that enhanced, structured training is a far better way to prepare pilots for the airline cockpit than mere time-building,” said NASAO President and CEO Mark Kimberling. “We, accordingly, commend Chairman Thune and other members of the Commerce Committee for their thoughtful leadership in adopting language that addresses the pilot shortage issue in a way that actually enhances safety, while supporting small community air service with a sufficient pipeline of pilots.”