Washington, DC, April 26, 2023. Media contact: email@example.com
The Regional Airline Association (RAA) applauds the introduction of the Flight Education Access Act by Senators Baldwin (D-WI) and Sullivan (R-AK) in the Senate and Representatives Allred (D-TX), Chavez DeRemer (R-OR), and Cohen (D-TN) in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will go a long way in helping to make pilot careers more accessible while helping to diversify the industry and improve pilot supply. RAA’s President and CEO, Faye Malarkey Black, offered the following statement:
“There has never been a better time to become a commercial airline pilot, nor a time when our country was in greater need of more pilots. Wages and opportunities are soaring, but systemic barriers and inequitable training access are closing doors on these transformational careers today. This legislation addresses one of the primary access barriers, which is the high cost of flight education and training and the dearth of federal resources to finance training.
Flight training costs an average of $80,000 and when combined with a bachelor’s degree can present students with $200,000 or more in costs. These expenses exceed the ceilings of today’s Federal student loans by an average of $80,000, despite extremely high returns on every training dollar. While airlines have stepped in with financial support, lower-income families can’t bridge the gap.
Access to flight education often hinges on candidates’ access to wealth or private capital and the ability to shoulder higher interest rates associated with private loans. Families with insufficient credit scores or histories are locked out. Unlike training for other prestige careers like medicine or law, accredited pilot training programs cannot access graduate aid programs to finance these higher costs. The Flight Education Access Act helps create a more equitable financial pathway by increasing student loan caps for accredited flight education and training programs to align with the real costs of flight education.
Despite redoubled industry diversification efforts, according to the Census Bureau’s Labor Force Statistics Demographic Data for Pilots & Flight Engineers, the pilot profession is not diverse—95.7% of the profession identifies as White; 9.2 percent Female; 2.6 percent Black; 1.6 percent Asian; and 9.7 percent Hispanic. Even where economic background is not statistically associated with an underrepresented population, financial barriers that deter candidates from pursuing training constrict an already unacceptably narrow pipeline. Pilots often work first jobs to afford to train for pilot jobs, so the average new hire is in their 30’s, the median age for childbearing. This truncates a pilot’s total career earning years and limits opportunities for young people, while making it harder to grow the pipeline needed to uphold air service.
The Flight Education Access Act will open doors for talented, hardworking young people, increase diversity among professional pilots, and help boost the supply of pilots, who are in great demand. Today, more than 500 regional aircraft have been parked without pilots, and small community air service is on the verge of collapse. Already, three-quarters (308) of the nation’s airports have lost, on average, one in four flights. Smaller airports have experienced the greatest harm, with 11 airports losing all of their flights.
We applaud Senator Baldwin and her colleagues in both chambers for this keystone legislation, which will offer better access to transformational, pilot careers to people from more diverse backgrounds. We are calling upon every lawmaker for support. Swift passage of Flight Education Access Act will connect more pilots with jobs, so we can connect more of the country that is, today, losing air service.”
The Regional Airline Association (RAA) provides a unified voice of advocacy for North American regional airlines aimed at promoting a safe, reliable and strong regional airline industry. RAA serves as an important support network connecting regional airlines and industry business partners. In the United States, regional airlines operate 41% of scheduled passenger flights and provide the only source of scheduled air service to 67% of the nation’s airports. Regional airlines provide 75% or more of the air service in Alabama (81%), Alaska (88%), Arkansas (81%), Iowa (78%), Kansas (82%), Maine (79%), Mississippi (82%), North Dakota (88%), South Dakota (85%), Vermont (92%), West Virginia (91%). Regional airlines provide half or more of the air service in Idaho (73%), Indiana (59%), Kentucky (60%), Michigan (57%), Montana (73%), Nebraska (60%), New Hampshire (69%), New Mexico (63%), North Carolina (55%), Ohio (52%), Oklahoma (55%), Oregon (54%), Pennsylvania (59%), Rhode Island (67%), South Carolina (57%), Utah (58%), Wisconsin (67%), and Wyoming (64%).