Washington, DC, June 14, 2023. Media contact: email@example.com
The Regional Airline Association (RAA) applauds the unanimous committee vote to advance The Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the next five years. RAA’s President & CEO, Faye Malarkey Black offered the following statement:
“For months, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voiced concern over a growing pilot shortage that has already decimated air service across the country and showed firm resolve in advancing safe, effective solutions. Today, they have reported a bill that will make a difference, and we applaud every member of the Committee.
The Security Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act improves aviation safety by allowing pilots working toward their Air Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate to benefit from more structured training time in flight simulators, where they will be able to practice and master a variety of scenarios they do not encounter while building flight time toward qualification today.
The bill additionally contains measures, such as expansion of the pilot workforce development grant program, which will improve outreach and support future pilots from all backgrounds, helping to increase the pilot supply while increasing diversity among pilot ranks.
The bill moves the mandatory pilot retirement age from age 65 to age 67, a modest change that allows retention of more experienced captains, who can in turn fly alongside and mentor new first officers, helping to stabilize attrition. Raising the pilot retirement age is the one solution that will have a near-immediate effect on the pilot shortage, allowing time for more long-term solutions to mature. It’s also the right thing to do for pilots who are today being pushed out of flight decks while they still have much to offer and before they are eligible for social security.
We especially applaud Committee Leadership, including Chairmen Sam Graves and Garret Graves, and Ranking Members Rick Larsen and Steve Cohen, for their masterful management of committee hearings, legislative development, member and stakeholder collaboration, and a successful bipartisan process. We are profoundly grateful for Chairmen Sam Graves and Garret Graves’ determined fight to ensure pilot qualifications actually produce qualified pilots. We also thank Representative Troy Nehls for his fierce advocacy on behalf of Age 67, which will have an immediate, positive effect for small community air service. We thank Ranking Members Larsen and Cohen for their leadership on workforce grant expansion.
We deeply appreciate every committee member on both sides of the aisle – and their dedicated staff – for coming together behind the amended bill in a bipartisan and collaborative spirit. This bill is good for small communities, good for safety, and good for our country – advancing important aviation goals while proving that a bipartisan, collaborative model of government is not only still possible, but successful.”
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%).