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Tue, May 30, 2023

ALPA Pres Rebuffs Idea of Rolling Back 1500-Hr Rule

"US has More than Enough Airline Pilots to Meet Demand...No Excuse for Attempts to Weaken Safety Standards"

Speaking before the Aero club of Washington, Jason Ambrosi of the ALPA touched on some of the upcoming battles he sees in the industry's future, from safety requirements to increasing student funding.

Overall, his message was an interesting piece of insight into where the regulatory winds may be blowing. Of note, the ALPA is not too keen on rocking the boat, with Ambrosi reiterating his support for the current regulatory landscape. That means that reduced hourly requirements, increased retirement ages, and relaxed job requirements are probably not going to see Ambrosi's (and the ALPA's) support any time soon. That's not fun to hear for young pilots desperately clawing their way to their 1,500 hour mark, and those Captains praying for a few more years of work before their forced retirement. For those over that 1,500-hr hump, it's the comforting, blessed sound of job security.

Ambrosi pushed stakeholders to broadly support the FAA in its upcoming reauthorization bill, while fighting any who wish to undo previous legislation in the interest of industrial convenience. Interestingly, Ambrosi took particular issue with the idea that there was a shortage of pilots to begin with, saying that "the United States has more than enough airline pilots to meet demand." As proof of the country's glut of aviators, Ambrosi upheld the number of new hires across the board, alluding to the idea that the industry's cries of missing pilots is based in missing cheap pilots.

"In fact, many airlines are hiring pilots, which means pilots are leaving less-attractive positions for more-promising careers at other employers."

Ahead of the expected shortage of pilots in the airlines, Ambrosi doubled down on retaining all changes made following the infamous Colgan Air crash in 2009. The expected calls to roll back hourly minimums to pre-2014 levels have so far been easily rebuffed with ease whenever the Families of Flight 3407 group push back on the idea. How long that lasts, however, remains to be seen should public opinion sufficiently turn. Regardless, Ambrosi won't be swayed by the economic - his interest lay in the human.

“There is no excuse for multiple attempts to weaken the safety standards that make flying the safest form of transportation. Promoting false claims about pilot supply as simply a reason to roll back safety are also unacceptable. These efforts are dangerous, particularly when it comes to first officer qualification, experience, and training requirements. I was honored and humbled to join the Flight 3407 Families in Clarence Center, New York, in February to mark the 14th anniversary of a crash in which 50 people died—and that also moved this nation to act. To act to make flying safer. To raise the bar on pilot training. To do all we can to prevent another Flight 3407 tragedy from ever happening again,” Ambrosi said.

Perhaps Ambrosi's most interesting take, in fact, negates the concept that there's any pilot shortage to begin with. He maintains that the FAA's requirement for all pilots of scheduled carriers to hold an ATP certificate (seen as a de facto 1,500-hr minimum experience rule) has been an integral part of bringing about a safer industry. "In fact," he said, "since the law was changed we have seen a 99.8 percent reduction in airline passenger fatalities."

"During that same period," he continued, "the United States produced 64,000 pilots, while airlines hired for approximately 40,000 pilot positions." While those numbers are much rosier than they seem - the FAA only saw the addition of 8,805 new ATP-MEL certificates issued in 2022 - that sound should be a relief to those already in the airline industry... It's the sound of job security.

"Let me repeat that," Ambrosi emphasized. "Since it serves as the foundation of what we stand for-and will fight to protect—when it comes to the upcoming FAA reauthorization. Pilot production is up, the fatality rate is down, and our skies are the safest in the world. We did that working together. Everyone in this room, on a bipartisan basis, labor and management, did that together. That’s because we’re stronger together."

FMI: www.alpa.org

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