New Independent Population Study Highlights Urgent Need for New and More Effective Pathways
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Posted by: RAA Media
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Media Inquiries: Kelly Murphy (703) 967-8113
For Immediate Release
March 8, 2016
New Independent Population Study commissioned by the Pilot Supply Summit of 2015
Highlights Urgent Need for New and More Effective Pathways for Part 121 Pilot Qualifications
Regional Airline Association Calls for Additional Alternative Pathways to Boost Aviation Safety
• Phase IV of the Pilot Source Study proves an urgent need for additional and reengineered
training pathways that restore airline access to highly competent pilots.
• The study provides compelling, empirical evidence indicating hours in flight cannot be viewed as
a proxy for experience or competency.
• Pilots with fewer than 1500 hours had fewer non-completions, required less extra initial training
and less extra recurrent training.
• Pilots with more than 4500 hours had more non-completions.
• Pilots with hours-in-flight between 1500 and 3000 required more extra recurrent training.
• Pilots hired after August 1, 2013 had a 9.87% increase in initial training non-completions.
Today, the Pilot Supply Summit of 2015 released Phase IV of its commissioned Pilot Source Study (PSS), a population study that represents the single most comprehensive study of regional airline hiring and training that has ever been accomplished. The study evaluated pre-hire experience and training performance of regional airline pilots before and after implementation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) 2013 First Officer Qualifications (FOQ) regulations. The study concluded that a pilot’s pre-hire experience directly influenced his or her success in regional airline training programs.
Among the report’s conclusions was a concerning confirmation that pilots entering the workforce with high hours in flight required the most additional training once hired. New hire pilots with high hours in flight also failed or dropped out of airline training programs (referred to as non-completions in the study) at the highest rates. This study’s outcome validates observations from regional airline training departments. The study shows that pilots with higher hours in flight, whose flying time is often unstructured, are faring worse in airline training programs than their lower time counterparts.
Phase IV of the Pilot Source Study shows pilots from recent restricted ATP (R-ATP) backgrounds perform significantly better in training than pilots with higher hours in flight. Therefore, these R-ATP pathways should be supported and expanded. The study stands as firm evidence that reconnecting the pilot pipeline is not merely an economic imperative; it is a critical step in continuing the advancement of aviation safety.
Recently, the Regional Airline Association (RAA) unveiled an airline-based R-ATP pathway called the Air Carrier Enhanced Part 121 Training Program, or the ACE R-ATP. The ACE R-ATP is more than a training program, it is a restricted ATP pathway, intended to work within the established regulatory framework and meet the mandates and objectives of Congress. The ACE R-ATP proposes to restore access to highly skilled aviators, offering an enhanced pathway to the commercial airline cockpit through a structured combination of flight time, mentoring, and specific competencies—ultimately offering a higher level of safety than existing regulations. RAA’s ACE R-ATP pathway was formed through the collaborative efforts of regional and major airline training experts, drawing on hundreds of years of collective training expertise, and melded with various recommendations from other stakeholders. The proposal also includes advisory guidance from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Stated RAA President, Faye Malarkey Black: “The ACE R-ATP addresses, head-on, a key finding that the industry is currently forced to engage in remedial training of newly-hired pilots, especially of those pilots hired with high flight hours.” As an alternative, the ACE R-ATP envisions structure and discipline for new pilots, providing new and additional elements of pilot screening, training, and support at critical phases in their professional development.
While the proposal comes at a time when the current pilot shortage has led to service disruptions and air service reductions at airports across the nation, Black emphasizes the ACE R-ATP pathway is a safety-first measure. “The ACE R-ATP will reconnect the pilot pipeline and restore career certainty to the profession,” she said. “More importantly, the ACE-R-ATP pathway will materially advance safety by allowing airlines to hire the most proficient pilots and support them through a comprehensive program designed to provide additional, airline-based structure, oversight, and training.”
Regional airlines are already making unprecedented investments in the next generation of professional pilots, yet pathways like the ACE R-ATP are needed to restore airlines’ ability to recruit and support the most proficient pilot candidates. Black concluded: “Our program seeks to provide an enhanced pathway for training and oversight while increasing the accessibility of aviation as a career choice. We are confident it will deliver squarely on these objectives, ensuring our nation’s skies remain the safest.”
This phase of the Pilot Source Study was commissioned by the Pilot Supply Summit of 2015 and executed on by Drs. Guy Smith, of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Elizabeth Bjerke, of University of North Dakota, who are the co-principal investigators. They worked with five Ph.D.s from different institutions who are participating in the data analysis: Dr. Thomas Carney, Purdue University; Dr. Cody Christenson, South Dakota State University; Dr. Paul Craig, Middle Tennessee State University; Dr. Mary Niemczyk, Arizona State University; and Dr. MaryJo Smith, Ypsilon Associates. The update includes data from the training records of over 7,000 pilots hired since August 1, 2013.
Earlier phases of the Pilot Source Study influenced the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, which resulted in the First Officer Qualifications (FOQ) regulations issued by the FAA. Under these regulations, all air carrier first officers must hold an Air Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate or a restricted ATP certificate. Additionally, earlier phases helped establish the “restricted privileges ATP (R-ATP) certificate,” pathways, enabling pilots from certain structured backgrounds to operate as first officers by allowing the FAA to approve credit toward flight hours.
The Regional Airline Association did not contribute to or pay for any elements of this report.
Note: An earlier version of this statement identified Phase IV of the Pilot Source Study as an AABI report. While AABI supported the research that went into the report’s findings, the report itself was commissioned and executed by the Pilot Supply Summit of 2015.
The full Pilot Source Study and information about the Pilot Supply Summit can be accessed here www.pilotsourcestudy.org
The Regional Airline Association (RAA) provides a unified voice of advocacy for North American regional airlines aimed at promoting a safe, reliable, and robust regional airline industry. The RAA serves as an important support network connecting regional airlines, industry business partners, and government regulators in bolstering the industry; as well as promoting regional airline interests in a changing business and policy environment. With more than 11,200 regional airline flights every day, regional airlines operate 45 percent of the nation's commercial schedule.