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Bipartisan Proposal in U.S. Senate Moves to Address Pilot Shortage

A proposed amendment in the United States Senate to a bill reauthorizing the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration partially eliminates training requirements that have contributed to the current national pilot shortage.

Bipartisan Proposal in U.S. Senate Moves to Address Pilot Shortage

The amendment, proposed by Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota, makes other forms of flight instruction count toward the 1,500-hour requirement that originally only counted actual flight time. If the amended bill passes in the U.S. Congress - both Houses of which are controlled by the Republican Party - it would expand the training programs and allow pilots-in-training to swap flight hours for classroom time, significantly lowering the barriers to entry for a career as a commercial pilot.

“We have to have new solutions that provide high-quality pilot training and hours building,” said Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association (RACCA) chair Tim Komberec, who has argued that other kinds of training are equally valuable, and sometimes even more effective. “These legislative moves show not only how important the issue is, but how communities have been impacted.”

Ever since public law 111-216 was enacted, raising the required minimum hours from 250 hours to 1,500, carriers have been lobbying with limited success to reduce the time requirements. In some cases, now, classroom time can already be swapped, lowering required flight hours to 1,000, but Sen. Thune’s proposal expands the opportunities for this sort of flexibility.

With estimated training costs reaching the $200,000 zone, North American pilots can expect to pay around $15bn in training costs over the next decade.

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