House Committee Approves Bill That Would Require Airlines to Impose Stricter Safety and Training Standards

On Thursday, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved by voice vote a bi-partisan bill that would establish new training and service standards for commercial pilots. Introduced by Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL), Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, along with 28 cosponsors, the Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009 (H.R. 3371) would, among other things, raise the minimum flight hours requirement for obtaining a commercial pilot’s license, implement measures to address pilot fatigue, and establish better pilot screening methods.

According to a press release issued by Rep. Costello, key provisions of the bill include:

  • Requiring airline pilots to hold a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airline Transport Pilot license (1,500 minimum flight hours required). This is an increase from the prior 250-minimum hour requirement.
  • Establishing comprehensive pre-employment screening of prospective pilots that would include an assessment of a pilot’s skills, aptitudes, airmanship and suitability for functioning in the airline’s operational environment.
  • Requiring airlines to establish pilot mentoring programs, create Pilot Professional Development Committees, modify training to accommodate new-hire pilots with different levels and types of flight experience, and provide leadership and command training to pilots in command.
  • Creating a Pilot Records Database to provide airlines with fast, electronic access to a pilot’s comprehensive record. Information would include pilot’s licenses, aircraft ratings, check rides, Notices of Disapproval and other flight proficiency tests.
  • Directing the FAA to update and implement a new pilot flight and duty time rule and fatigue risk management plans to more adequately track scientific research in the field of fatigue.
  • Requiring air carriers to create fatigue risk management systems approved by the FAA.
  • Requiring the FAA to ensure that pilots are trained on stall recovery and upset recovery, and that airlines provide remedial training on such maneuvers.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.