CAPA comments on the "Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements NPRM

April 30, 2012


Docket Operations, M-30
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
West Building Ground Floor
Room W12-140
Washington, DC 20590-0001

RE: Comments on NPRM FAA-2010-0100; Notice No. 12-01
RIN 2120-AJ67: "Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements
for Air Carrier Operations"

Dear Sir/Madam:

The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the "Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements for Air Carrier Operations" Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and respectfully submits its comments on this letter.

CAPA represents over 28,000 pilots across both passenger and cargo industries. These carriers include American Airlines, US Airways, Southwest Airlines, UPS Airlines, ABX Air, Horizon Airlines, Silver Airways, Atlas Airways, Cape Air, Omni Air, USA 3000, Miami Air, Polar Air Cargo, Kalitta, and Southern Air.

The officers and pilot members of CAPA are all currently qualified Captains and First Officers flying the line in todays challenging airline system and industry. Flight simulator instructors, and FAA Check Airmen at our member airlines offer a unique and unequaled perspective of the requirements, abilities, and training necessary to act as Pilot-in-Command (PIC) or Second-in-Command (SIC) in US airline operations. CAPA is committed to addressing the regulatory issues affecting the crewmember – and the safety of the flying public.

Background:

Historically, US airlines operating complex high-performance aircraft could choose from a highly experienced applicant pool and require thousands of hours of flying time well in excess of the current Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) requirements. Over the years the experience levels of new-hire pilots in transport category aircraft has diminished substantially, especially at the regional

airline level. Flying for commercial regional passenger airlines is now an entry-level position for many pilots, yet many of our nations citizens have been placed unwittingly and unknowingly into
a system with lower levels of proficiency and reduced safety standards resulting from a flawed economic model employed by many airlines and their regional code share partners.

Traditionally, airline pilot positions were highly coveted careers and a well regarded profession. When compensation and benefits in the industry were dramatically reduced, the experience level of the pilot applicant pool was similarly diminished. Lack of incentives and career progression, have kept experienced furloughed pilots from returning to the profession and has prompted many experienced airline pilots to leave altogether, seeking more promising and long lasting career paths. Additionally, experienced military pilots, another historical source of qualified and highly skilled pilots are choosing to either stay in the military or seek other avenues of employment.

The recent trend in outsourcing airline flying to regional affiliates has become a key component of the major airlines’ business model. The regional airlines compete against each other for routes offered by the major airlines by “bidding” against one another on a cost per route basis. As a result, there are strong incentives to push for lower and lower labor and maintenance costs, to include experience and pilot proficiency. This business practice essentially outsources highly qualified, highly experienced pilot jobs to pilots with extremely limited experience just entering the industry, which compromises the safety of the flying public.

The proliferation of regional airline affiliates and their need to hire pilot labor at the lowest cost has set in motion a “race to the bottom”, the bottom of the experience pool. Current regulations permit an 18-year-old pilot with only 250 hours of total flight time experience to fly as Second in Command (SIC) of our nation’s commercial airliners. A pilot with so little experience and qualifications is ill prepared to serve as a First Officer/SIC piloting a highly complex aircraft in a congested Air Traffic Control System. Placing an inexperienced pilot in a SIC position adversely effects safety and increases the already high demands on the PIC to monitor inexperienced First Officer performance.

The reality is, the business practices and models of many of our nation’s carriers have reduced the career expectations of entry-level pilots to a standard that will not allow a pilot to support a family. This new economic reality is what is driving many qualified pilots out of the job market. The perception by some industry stakeholders that there is a shortage of pilots is not at all accurate. There is, however, a very real shortage of pilots who are willing to work at the compensation and benefit level existing today at our regional airlines. With that in mind the regional carriers are forced to compete in a difficult pilot availability environment, victims of their own induced, perceived pilot shortage. This problem will rectify itself when a firm experience level and standard are set defining minimum qualifications. This system can and will right itself when the standard is set.

The current FAA requirement for airman to possess an Airline Transport Pilot license (ATP) would provide a standard level of experience that would greatly enhance the quality of airmen in the cockpits of FAA part 121 air carriers. Incorporated in the ATP are specific experience requirements that, when met, give airmen “real-world” training unable to be replicated in a classroom environment. With specific requirements of cross-country, instrument, and night experience, airmen must successfully attain that experience within the aviation system itself, a highly challenging benchmark with high intrinsic value in its educational potential. No airline or school can replicate the experience gained in pursuit of the 1500 hours required for an ATP. Through this de facto “apprentice” program, successful pilots gain the foundational skills they
can then apply to the advanced training for the ATP and airline training program yet to come. As we have said many times before, “the current ATP and its requisite requirements including its quantity of flight hours possess a standard of quality all their own, tested and proven over time.”

Any reduction of the current 1500 hour minimum requirement by allowing “credit” for attendance at a school or by a reduced number of military hours, has two undesirable effects. First, there is no empirical evidence that a graduate of a school or military program has better experience or skill than an airman who has not. Secondly, many if not most potential airline pilots cannot afford the extraordinarily high cost of specialized aviation institutions. It is inherently unfair that an applicant with the resources can “purchase” the qualification, what reducing the hour requirement amounts to, without actually having had to gain the flying experience.

Now, in response to Congressional mandate, we are discussing increasing the qualifications necessary for pilots serving in a SIC/First Officer capacity. CAPA applauds the direction that the FAA is moving by increasing the requirements to serve as SIC well above what is currently in place, in an effort to increase proficiency and safety. CAPA, however, strongly believes that the requisite certification and flight time experience necessary to serve as SIC pilot are present in the current ATP certificate including its' component parts. Consequently, our support for the current ATP certificate, its' requisite components and 1500 minimum flight hours, are the minimum requirements possible to serve as a First Officer/SIC on part 121 operations and possess an undeniable basic level of safety and operational proficiency. The current ATP is a well-proven system that is designed to build and polish a pilot capable of the demanding needs in today's challenging airline flight operations environment. We strongly support the requirements recently introduced with this proposed rule to include advanced ground instruction on subjects related to performance in today's national airspace system and high altitude flight environment, and advanced aircraft systems.

In conclusion, there is a startling omission from the final ARC report not contained within the new proposed rule, that of its applicability. Critics of this rule say that it will require them to lay off or somehow remove pilots, currently flying and not meeting these new standards. These same critics say it will create undue hardships on those attempting to enter the industry and create a deeper pilot shortage. CAPA strongly disagrees. Those currently serving as First Officer/SIC in the industry will attain the requisite hours necessary well before the August 2013 proposed implementation date, given current monthly flight time performance at their respective airline employer. Additionally, those planning their apprenticeships to account for the required changes will have sufficient time to do so and allow for other means and alternatives to complete their studies prior to the deadline and implementation. These critics are merely trying to create controversy where there is none, this issue of applicability and other similar issues were discussed by the ARC participants, and the overwhelming recommendation was that these new rules be only applicable to those entering the industry/profession after the date of enactment. Those pilots already working for FAA certificated 121 air carriers were in a sense to be "Grand Fathered" from the provisions of this new rule. CAPA supports such a move, as there is absolutely no "down side" to doing so. We ask the FAA to amend its applicability of this rule in the final publication.



Supporting Points:

· Every US Major airline requires new-hire pilot flight experience in excess than the requirements of the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certification; regional airlines do not.

· “One Level of Safety” dictates the same experience levels throughout the air transportation system.

· Over 50% of US domestic flights are operated by Regional Air Carriers.

· Regional airlines fly at the same speeds and same altitudes as the major airlines.

· Regional airliners fly into the same congested airports in our nation’s biggest cities.

· Cockpits of regional aircraft are now just as complex and sophisticated as the cockpits of the aircraft operated by the major airlines.

· Four of the last five fatal airline accidents have involved regional carriers.

· The accident rate among FAA-rated Commercial pilots without an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate is over (3) three times greater than pilots who possess an ATP.

· Airmanship skills are not taught just through good training; they are developed and honed over time through actual flight experience.

· Allowing a potential airline pilot to shortcut the process by “purchasing” the experience from a school (reducing the number of hours required for the ATP) instead of performing the flying is unfair to those that don’t have the financial means to do so.

· Flying aircraft of any size develops airmanship skills. For example, a pilot flying small single engine aircraft at low speeds and altitudes, over time develops excellent airmanship skills, “stick and rudder”. For the same pilot learning the systems and procedures for transition into sophisticated aircraft is confidently made since there is a well-established foundation of flying skills. This concept of progression is well defined in the FAA approved Advanced Qualification Programs (AQP Training Programs) used throughout the major airlines. Under AQP, pilots entering a new or different type aircraft are tested in flying skills and maneuvers utilizing the new aircraft. Only after flying skills and maneuvers are successfully demonstrated, is a pilot then trained for utilizing the automation relative to the operation of the aircraft. In summary, a pilot that has developed excellent flying skills is prepared to easily transition into automated aircraft.

· Judgment is not developed through good training, like airmanship skills, it is practiced and enhanced over time.

· Knowledge is transferable through training.

· Experience is not transferable.



The following comments are in response to the questions in the NPRM FAA-2010-0100:
A. ATP Certificate for All Pilots Operating Under Part 121.

(1) Is a minimum of 1,500 hours adequate in order to receive an unrestricted ATP certificate? Why or why not?

CAPA believes and supports the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate as the minimum certification level for all flight crew members operating under Part 121. There is no substitute for experience. The only way to gain flight experience as measured in flight hours is to actually fly an aircraft. The various requirements of the ATP certificate include not only total flight hours, but cross-country, night and instrument flight hours. These baseline requirements form the foundation for continued professional development and safe operations. Many different types of aircraft and flight operations can be utilized to accomplish the first 1500 flight hours, and the various subpart requirements for the ATP. All are valuable because they provide flight hour experience.

There are several important pieces to the puzzle in forming a competent and safe professional aviator. These include academic preparation, quality flight training and flight hour experience. All are needed for the safe piloting of today's complex, high-speed aircraft through a congested, multi-faceted air traffic control network in difficult weather environments. Mainline air carriers require the ATP for employment and "One Level of Safety" dictates that all air carriers, regional or otherwise, should require the ATP as well.

The 1500 flight hour requirement of the ATP requires develops a mature, experienced, professional aviator who has the foundation to exercise sound judgment. These are fundamental requirements for the safe transportation of tens or even hundreds of passengers. The 1500 hour minimum requirement develops better airmanship skills that cannot be taught in a classroom or experienced in a simulator. The responsibility of safe passage for our nations traveling public through the complex congested air traffic control system in challenging atmospheric conditions should not be charged to a pilot with so little flight time and experience.

(2)As a result of the new ATP requirement for pilots in part 121 operations, what will be the impact on pilot supply for part 121 operations? For part 135 operations? For part 141 pilot schools? For part 142 training centers?

The issue of supply is best addressed by the operators (airlines) themselves developing and maintaining rewarding and livable career paths that make possible the growth and development of a large cadre of skilled and competent professional aviators. Although not directly a part of this rule or ARC scope is entirely relevant to the long term solution to the declining profession overall.

B. Aeronautical Experience Requirement in the Class of Airplane for the ATP Certificate Sought.

(3) Is 50 hours in class of airplane too high, too low, or adequate in order to receive an ATP certificate with airplane category multiengine class rating?

Yes. The qualifications and experience addressed in this NPRM relate to First Officers. This requirement is adequate for First Officer qualifications.

C. Aircraft Type Rating for All Pilots Operating Under Part 121.

(4) Should SICs in part 121 air carrier operations be required to hold an aircraft type rating? Why or why not?

Yes. Development of a Second-in-Command type rating is a positive step towards First Officer proficiency and overall skill. The training methodology under Advanced Qualifications Program (AQP) stresses a crew concept approach to problem solving. This training relies heavily on the use of Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Threat and Error management (TEM) skills, both of which are integral parts of advanced crew training. The proposed requirement for the SIC to hold a type rating would provide the in-depth knowledge required to effectively deal with emergency and abnormal situations as an equal partner to the Pilot in Command (PIC). Today, flying tasks have moved away from one based on seat specific maneuvers to one that stresses Pilot Monitoring (PM) or Pilot Flying Skills (PF). To that end the new type rating requirements represents a significant advancement in crew training. This would be no increase in cost over what is already required as all pilots still are required to take proficiency checks on a regular basis. The only change would be in maneuvers required and performance standards.

(5) Should all SICs be required to hold an aircraft type rating if the aircraft currently requires a type rating for the PIC, regardless of the rule part the aircraft is operated under (e.g., part 91, 125, or 135)? Why or why not?

Yes. (see above for background and rationale)

D. ATP Certification Training Program for an Airplane Category Multiengine Class Rating or Type Rating.

(6) Should pilot wanting to obtain an ATP certificate with airplane category multiengine class rating or type rating be required to take an additional training course prior to taking the knowledge test? Why or why not?

Yes. The additional training outlined by the new rule to encompass high altitude aerodynamics and aircraft performance and weather among others is a welcome advancement to enable competency in todays highly challenging flight environments. This additional training would serve as an excellent and effective way to expose crews to training concepts that may not be readily apparent or easily grasped through use of a multiple choice exams or similar methods.

(7) If academic training is required in an ATP certification training course, what topics are appropriate? How many hours are appropriate for such a course
Yes. (see above for background and rationale).

(8) Should an ATP certification training course include non-type specific FSTD training on concepts that are generally universal to transport category aircraft? Why or why not?

Yes. Aircraft performance, high altitude flight environments to include weather and flight planning are universal across the transport category spectrum.

(9) If FSTD training is required, what level of FSTD is appropriate? How many hours are appropriate?

FSTD beyond what is currently allowed is unnecessary. Should FSTD training be part of a training course within current ATP requirements, that training should focus on operations in instrument weather conditions and instrument approaches. Additionally, high altitude operations would prove important.

(10) Based on the proposed content of the ATP Certification Training Program, what changes or reductions could be made to a part 121 air carrier training program?

No. There should be no reduction in time or subject-matter content for training to operate increasingly complex transport category aircraft. Safety and proficiency cannot be improved or enhanced by reducing training or completion standards.

(11) The FAA assumes parts 121, 135, 141, and 142 certificate holders will be able to provide the ATP Certification Training Program. What factors would these certificate holders principally consider in determining whether or not to offer the course?

All certificate holders should be required to comply with all time and subject matter content for all pilots in accordance within their operational specifications. We do not support a reduction in classroom, simulator or aircraft training time or content. Training performed for all pilots should be subject the current standard that all initial issuance’s be monitored or observed, if not entirely conducted by actual FAA inspectors and not designees.

E. ATP Certificate with Restricted Privileges based on Academic and Military Training

(12) Should the FAA offer an ATP certificate with restricted privileges for pilots with fewer than 1,500 flight hours based on academic training and/or experience? Why or why not? If so, how many hours would be appropriate? Should anyone other than military pilots or graduates of 4-year colleges and universities with aviation-related degrees and commercial pilot certificates with instrument ratings obtained from an affiliated part 141 pilot school be eligible? Why or why not?

No. There is no substitute for flight hour experience. The baseline requirements of the ATP form the foundation for continued professional development and safe operations. Embedded in the ATP requirements is 1500 flight hours. Many different types of aircraft can be flown to accomplish the first 1500 flight hours and the various subpart requirements for the ATP. All are valuable because they provide valuable flight experience. Reducing the 1500 hour requirement reduces the overall total experience necessary to serve as a First Officer. Every pilot has better and broader experience with more, not less flight hour experience.

(13) Should military pilots be allowed to receive an ATP certificate with restricted privileges? Why or why not? If so, is the proposed 750 hours too high, or too low, or adequate?

No. There is no substitute for flight hour experience. The baseline requirements of the ATP form the foundation for continued professional development and safe operations. Embedded in the ATP requirements is 1500 flight hours. Many different types of aircraft can be flown to accomplish the first 1500 flight hours and the various subpart requirements for the ATP. All are valuable because they provide flight hour experience. Reducing the 1500 hour requirement reduces the overall total experience necessary to serve as a First Officer. Every pilot has better and broader experience with more, not less flight hour experience. This point does not negate the high quality training military pilots receive.


(14) Should graduates of 4-year colleges and universities with aviation-related majors and commercial pilot certificates with instrument ratings obtained from an affiliated part 141 pilot school be allowed to receive an ATP certificate with restricted privileges? Why or why not? If so, is the proposed 1,000 hours too high, too low, or adequate?

No. There is no substitute for flight hour experience. The baseline requirements of the ATP form the foundation for continued professional development and safe operations. Embedded in the ATP requirements is 1500 flight hours. Many different types of aircraft can be flown to accomplish the first 1500 flight hours and the various subpart requirements for the ATP. All are valuable because they provide flight hour experience. Reducing the 1500 hour requirement reduces the overall total experience necessary to serve as a First Officer. Every pilot has better and broader experience with more, not less flight hour experience. Reducing flight hour requirements out of deference to a 4-year degree and academic aviation training does not provide the necessary flight hour experience to exercise the ATP certificate privileges.

(15) Should military pilots and/or graduates of 4-year colleges and universities with aviation-related majors and commercial pilot certificates with instrument ratings obtained from an affiliated part 141 school be allowed to receive an ATP certificate
without restrictions with fewer than 1,500 hours? Why or why not? If so, how many hours would be appropriate?

No. There is no substitute for experience. The baseline requirements of the ATP form the foundation for continued professional development and safe operations. Embedded in the ATP requirements is 1500 flight hours. Many different types of aircraft can be flown to accomplish the first 1500 flight hours and the various subpart requirements for the ATP. All are valuable because they provide flight hour experience. Reducing the 1500 hour requirement reduces the overall total experience necessary to serve as a First Officer. Every pilot has better and broader experience with more, not less flight hour experience.



(16) Should a pilot who obtains a degree with an aviation-related major from a 4-year college or university and a commercial pilot certificate with instrument rating from a part 141 pilot school not affiliated with the college or university be eligible for a restricted privileges ATP certificate? Why or why not? If so, how many hours should they be required to have? And, should there be a time limit between the baccalaureate training and the flight training if they were not done concurrently?

No. There is no substitute for experience. The baseline requirements of the ATP form the foundation for continued professional development and safe operations. Embedded in the ATP requirements is 1500 flight hours. Many different types of aircraft can be flown to accomplish the first 1500 flight hours and the various subpart requirements for the ATP. All are valuable because they provide flight hour experience. Reducing the 1500 hour requirement reduces the overall total experience necessary to serve as a First Officer. Every pilot has better and broader experience with more, not less flight hour experience.



(17) Should the FAA consider an alternative licensing structure for pilots who desire only to fly for a part 121 air carrier (e.g., multicrew pilot license)? Why or why not?

No. The current ATP standard has served our system well for a very long time. It provides the basis for experience and professional development. Requiring a different licensing requirement with lower flight hour and/or experience requirements does nothing to provide a better safety environment. The “fork in the road” should occur when the airman attains the ATP certificate.

(18) If the FAA were to adopt a licensing structure for a multicrew pilot license, what would be the appropriate amount and type of ground and flight training?

CAPA does not support the concept of a multi-crew pilot license (MPL) as all flight crewmembers must be competent to assume any flight crewmember role in the event of pilot incapacitation. The replacement of a fully qualified and type rated pilot with one that has limited knowledge and experience represents a reduction in safety from the current rule.

F. Minimum of 1,000 hours in Air Carrier Operations to Serve as PIC in Part 121 Operations.

(19) If all pilots in part 121 air carrier operations are required to hold an ATP certificate, should there be additional requirements prior to operating as a PIC in part 121 air carrier operations? If so, what should those requirements be?

CAPA supports the proposed rule requiring 1000 hours of air carrier experience prior to operating as PIC in air carrier operations. We believe that there is tremendous value in honing ones skills under mentored supervision in real world flight situations and weather environments.

(20) Is the proposed flight hour requirement for serving as SIC before moving to PIC too long, too short, or adequate?

CAPA believes this requirement to be reasonable and adequate for safe operation.

(21) Should the proposed PIC time in part 91 subpart K or part 135 operations count towards the part 121 PIC requirement? Why or why not?

No. Part 121 flying is different with additionally duties and responsibilities.


(22) Should SIC time outside of part 121 operations count towards the proposed requirement? Why or why not?

Yes. Serving in a SIC capacity within the limits allowed under the current ATP certificate standards provides necessary experience to meet the ATP certification requirements.

G. Miscellaneous Amendments

The FAA has proposed several miscellaneous amendments to parts 61 and 142. These amendments are non-substantive technical amendments, mostly to defined terms, remove obsolete provisions, and make minor conforming changes to existing regulations. One proposal would remove several references to SFAR No. 58 because that provision already was removed from chapter 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The FAA is also proposing to amend the definitions of 61.1. The definitions of "flight training device" and "flight simulator" would be removed because those terms are defined in parts 1 and 60. New definitions of "accredited" and "nationally recognized accrediting agency" would be added in order to clarify which institutions' graduates would qualify for an ATP certificate with restricted privileges. Additionally, the FAA is proposing several minor conforming amendments to update cross-references in various sections of the regulations and to make other editorial corrections.

CAPA believes these are reasonable and prudent changes in light of expected changes to come.

CAPA offers assistance with expert panels and/or working groups and can provide experts to assist with your efforts. Thank you again, for allowing CAPA to comment on this important rulemaking issue.


Sincerely,

/s/
Captain Carl Kuwitzky
President