CAPA responds to the Wall Street Journal report of pilot shortages

12 November 2012

Press Contacts:

Captain  Lee Collins
CAPA President
Captain Carl Kuwitzky
(202) 624-3540 (office)

CAPA Executive VP

In response to an article " Airlines Face Acute Shortage of Pilots" in the Wall Street Journal today, 12 November 2012, the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association posts this position statement and supporting talking points. We support the ATP minimum requirement for all part 121 and 135 pilots employed by US commercial operators to possess an Airline Transport Pilot license.

CAPA Executive Vice-President Captain Lee Collins responds with:

"Airlines must stop their constant assault upon the Airline Piloting Profession if they want to attract quality pilots and qualified applicants.  This is a manufactured crisis by Airline managements to try and coerce the FAA and other government regulators that a real and present danger exists.  There is none.

As always when the airlines promote a viable, stable and attractive career path,  pilots have historically been willing to join the ranks.  However, when airlines continue to lower pay and benefits, reduce if not completely eliminate retirement plans and other similar career expectations, then quality individuals look elsewhere for employment.  This time is no different.  The airlines have had more than five years to plan for this coming time, during which they have done nothing to create an attractive career path for new pilots or members of the military, looking to begin a civilian career.

The time is now for America's corporate airline management teams to stop making excuse and step up to the plate and lead as their titles and positions expect they should do.

At Southwest Airlines, UPS Airlines and FedEx Airlines, the best and highest paid airline pilots in America with a solid career progression and the highest most professional pilot cadre: there are waiting lists of literally thousands wanting to work as new entry level pilots at these airlines.  This is the very best evidence that supports our claim.  If you want the best and most qualified pilots, and an abundance of applicants (no shortages), then give them a reason to come."

Captain Collins is a 26-year veteran of the airline industry with an extensive professional background in Airline Security, Safety, Domestic and International Flight Operations and many years of Industry/Governmental Legislative Affairs.

CAPA's official Talking Points: ATP Minimum Requirements are below and can be downloaded here

The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations recommends the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) License as the minimum standard for employment as a pilot with a Part 121 or 135 air carrier. The ATP provides the academic coursework, flight training and experience needed for the safe piloting of today’s complex, high-speed aircraft through a congested, multifaceted 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 hours that the ATP requires develops a mature, experienced and professional aviator who has the foundation to exercise prudent judgment while responsible for the safe transportation of tens or even hundreds of passengers.

 Entry-level First Officers have immediate flying duties and are as responsible as Captains for the safe operation of the aircraft;

 ATP requires 500 cross-country flight hours, 400 night hours;  ATP check ride is tailored to commercial operations at large airports;  Achieving the ATP requires more check rides and generates more performance documentation;  1500 hours develops better airmanship skills;  Spatial orientation, physiological factors and situational awareness are finely honed with more

flight time;  Commercial pilot (only) licensed aviators account for 3x the accidents as ATP licensed pilots;  50% of US domestic flights are flown by Regional Carriers;  “Quantity” of flight hours have a “Quality” of their own.

The current minimum hiring requirement for US commercial part 121 and 135 operators is 250 flight hours, a commercial pilot license and an instrument rating. These basic qualifications can be attained in 12 months for about $25,000. The responsibility of 50, 70 or 100 passengers and their safe passage through the congested air traffic control system in challenging atmospheric conditions should not be charged to a pilot with so little flight time and qualification. A doctor who is responsible for one life at a time must complete undergraduate study, medical school, residency and pass board certified exams before practicing as a doctor. Part 121 pilots should be required to have similar extensive training and qualifications.

CAPA’s Position: CAPA supports the ATP minimum requirement for all part 121 and 135 pilots employed by US commercial operators to possess an Airline Transport Pilot license.