RAA encourages additional training for airline first officers

The Regional Airline Association (RAA) recently encouraged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to approve additional, safety-enhancing structured training for airline first officers.

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RAA asked the FAA to modify 14 CFR 61.160, the law that addresses pilot training. The law creates three pathways for training: obtaining a four-year aviation degree, obtaining a two-year aviation degree or military training.

The First Officer Qualifications rule went into effect in 2013. Research has shown that additional training provides more proficient pilots.

RAA also has encouraged the FAA to approve more training pathways, citing improved safety.

“Improving aviation safety and reopening the pilot career path are not mutually exclusive objectives,” RAA President Faye Malarkey Black said. “We urge the FAA to review the available data and carefully evaluate additional pathways, approving them where they will enhance safety.”

Creating more pathways also will address the pilot shortage in the United States. Currently, high training costs and restrictions are barriers to hiring additional pilots.

This has caused the industry to contract. Eventually, many communities will lose a portion or all of their air service. In many small and medium-sized communities, 64 percent of the service is through regional airlines.

In 2016, 42 percent of schedule flights were with RAA members.