RAA Press

RAA Statement on Passage of H.R. 3935

Washington, DC, July 20, 2023. Media contact:

In response to House passage of H.R. 3935, the Security Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act, Regional Airline Association (RAA) President and CEO Faye Malarkey Black offered the following statement:

“RAA thanks the House for passing today’s measure. The bill includes measures aimed at mitigating the growing pilot shortage and even more acute shortage of airline captains, which have driven a collapse in small community air service across the United States. Air service loss drives more travelers to our highways, where the traffic fatality rate is soaring. Air service loss makes it harder for communities to attract investment, generate employment, and provide mobility and vital services to their citizens.

The bill expands the pilot workforce development program, which will improve outreach and support future pilots from all backgrounds, helping to improve diversity in pilot ranks by reducing financial barriers to aviation careers. The bill also moves the mandatory pilot retirement age from age 65 to age 67, a safe and practical solution with immediate benefits for aviation. Raising the pilot age will moderately slow attrition, allowing experienced captains who choose to fly for two more years to continue safely connecting the country while mentoring the next generation, and simultaneously mitigating harmful and ageist policies that have no basis in science.

We were disappointed that lawmakers stripped the bill of a safety-enhancing measure to empower greater integration of supports from flight simulators with required flight time to unequivocally improve pilot training and proficiency by ensuring pilots get more of the relevant experience in the right way. However, we remain deeply grateful to Chairmen Sam Graves and Garrett Graves along with Ranking Members Rick Larsen and Steve Cohen and the bipartisan support of many House members among the 191 votes to retain this provision. RAA will continue to fight to advance structured pilot training, including use of modern simulator technology, in the Senate and other arenas, urging the use of facts and data over emotion and misinformation.

As we turn our focus to the Senate, we encourage lawmakers to promulgate measures to support aviation broadly, and provisions advancing safety-enhancing structured training and simulator time specifically. We also urge the inclusion of measures that support a diverse cadre of airline pilots from dream of flight to a more appropriately-timed retirement flight.

Our country will be a true leader, and the gold standard in aviation safety and aviation service, only when the benefits of a safe and robust aviation network reach citizens in communities large and small. This is not the case today, as dozens of small communities have fallen off the air service map, having lost between half of, to all of, their flights. Hundreds more airports stand at great risk, and 325 airports have lost more than one-in-four flights, which means reduced connectivity, fewer market choices, and higher prices.

Small community economies rise and fall based on the quality of their infrastructure and the specter of an air service map that connects only the large cities is real, and must be addressed with urgency. The U.S. air service network is in crisis, and it is time for lawmakers to meet the moment. We believe H.R. 3935 represents a firm first step, and we are counting on the Senate to continue and enhance this work.”

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