Washington, DC—The reality of the US pilot shortage is taking its toll on air service to communities and the related economic impact is being felt across the country, the Regional Airline Association (RAA) testified today during the House Aviation Subcommittee hearing on Air Service to Small and Rural Communities.
Representing the RAA and its Pilot Supply Task Force, Republic Airways Chairman, President and CEO Bryan Bedford explained how the FAA’s new 1500 hour First Officer Qualification (FOQ) rule has sparked a pilot shortage: “We cautioned lawmakers and regulators, throughout the lawmaking and regulatory process that including a largely inflexible and arbitrary flight-hour experience requirement as part of the final mandate would not only fail to improve safety, it would hasten the growing pilot shortage and imperil air service at communities across the country.”
Following the release of the recent GAO report on the Aviation Workforce, RAA urged Congress and the FAA to work together to fix the pilot supply challenges emerging from the 1500 hour rule. The extraordinary time and financial burden for the nation’s highly trained aviators attempting to enter the workforce has severed the traditional pilot supply pipeline and impacted the nation’s economy with both job cuts and community air service reduction.
“I cannot think of a single greater challenge to air service to small and rural communities than the very real and significant pilot shortage facing US regional airlines and ultimately the flying public,” said Bedford.
Bedford asked Congress to direct FAA to allow structured training credit for a greater number of the ATP’s required 1500 flight hours, expedite the approval process for all institutions seeking to provide credit for structured training academies and programs, and to consider statutory improvements, such as student funding support, in order to work with the airline industry to attract new pilots now and in the future.
“By emphasizing quality-of-training over an arbitrary flight time experience, instead of the reverse, we can pursue our goal of protecting the world’s safest aviation system, while preserving access to that system for communities large and small. At the same time, we will stimulate job creation throughout the entire aviation marketplace,” Bedford concluded.
See Bryan Bedford’s full testimony here.
Founded in 1975, Washington, D.C.-based RAA provides a wide array of technical, government relations and public relations services for regional airlines. With safety as its highest priority, the association's 29 member airlines and nearly 200 associate members represent the key decision-makers of this vital sector of the commercial aviation industry. With more than 13,000 regional airline flights every day, regional airlines operate half of the nation’s scheduled flights with nearly 70 percent of U.S. airports relying on regional airlines exclusively.