(WASHINGTON) – In a statement released today, Captain David P. Bourne, Director of the Airline Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, addressed the FAA’s current Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) regarding minimum pilot standards.
“The Airline Division of the Teamsters Union is fully committed to the highest standards of pilot experience in the cockpits of commercial airliners, whether they carry passengers or cargo. We fully support the position of the Coalition of Airline Pilot Associations (CAPA) that under no circumstances should there be a lowering of the minimum hours requirement for those pilots who have a college degree from accredited aviation schools.
“The Airline Division was proud to have joined with CAPA, APA, SWAPA and IPA at the first roundtable discussion supporting the call for higher minimum standards for the pilots who operate commercial airliners. We were also humbled to have met with, and promised our full support to the families of Colgan 3407, whose perseverance on this matter has finally brought this issue to the forefront. And we were honored to work on Capitol Hill with CAPA, the families and members of the House and Senate to bring the legislation forward.
“To be clear – we have the highest respect for anyone who completes a course of higher education. The fact is that a four-year degree has no relationship to an individual’s skills as a pilot. The simple truth is, regardless of the classroom situations and lessons learned in that environment, there is no acceptable substitute for the experience of actual flight hours in aircraft.
“We realize that technology has evolved to a much higher level in this industry, allowing us the luxury of fully automated cockpits and aircraft that can operate in almost any environment imaginable. Technology is however, subject to failure and it is when that failure occurs that the skills of a pilot are tested. It is at this point that a pilot’s experience becomes critical and is a matter of life or death for everyone involved. A pilot is unable to draw upon a college degree; to ensure a successful outcome they must instead draw upon those hours and years of experience to avoid a disaster.
“We fully understand the industry’s desire to have lower standards as it will allow them to use relative inexperience as an excuse to lower pay rates as was noted in the hearings on the Colgan 3407 crash.
“For too many decades, aviation safety has been based upon the lowest bidder or the odds of something happening compared to the cost of fixing a problem. FAA Administrator Babbitt, himself a former airline pilot, knows of this firsthand when he experienced these same problems in the 1980’s when he and his fellow pilots uncovered thousands of maintenance lapses at Eastern Airlines.
“We have seen too many tragic results of this short-sighted approach over the years. The 1500-hour requirement with specific experience must be the minimum acceptable standard. The American public deserves no less.
“We remain committed with CAPA, the families of Colgan 3407 and Congress in calling for Administrator Babbitt to accept nothing less than a 1500 hour minimum with specific experience for any pilot operating passenger airliners.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit www.Teamster.org.