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The Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act

On July 29th, the House passed the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act (H.R. 5900).  This bill extends the authorization of the FAA through September 30, 2010 and contains key airline safety provisions, including requiring airline pilots to hold an Airline Pilot (ATP) certificate (with 1,500 minimum flight hours required; the current minimum is 250 flight hours). The legislation also calls for truth in advertising, mandating that websites selling airline tickets disclose to the purchaser the air carrier that operates each segment of the flight.

Key Provisions from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:

FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION EXTENSION

  • H.R. 5900, the “Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010”, extends aviation programs, taxes, and expenditure authority for two additional months, through the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2010), pending completion of a multi-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill.  Without this short-term extension, the FAA's capital, research, and airport grant programs would shut down after August 1, 2010, and several thousand FAA employees would be furloughed.

PILOT TRAINING AND SAFETY PROVISIONS AS NEGOTIATED WITH SENATE

  • Pilot Qualifications:  Requires airline pilots to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate (1,500 minimum flight hours required; current minimum is 250 flight hours).  Requires the FAA to raise the minimum requirements for the ATP certificate.  Requires pilot training for effective performance in: an air carrier operational environment; adverse weather conditions, including icing; high altitude operations; and a multi-pilot crew.  Enables the FAA to consider allowing certain academic training hours that may increase the level of safety above the minimum requirements to be counted towards the 1,500-hour ATP certificate requirement. 
  • Implementation of National Transportation Safety Board Recommendations:  Requires FAA to ensure that pilots are trained on stall recovery, upset recovery, and that airlines provide remedial training to pilots who need it.
  • Pilot Records Database:  Creates a Pilot Records Database to provide airlines with fast, electronic access to a pilot's comprehensive record.  Information in the database will include: pilot licenses, aircraft ratings, check rides, notices of disapproval, other flight proficiency tests, and State motor vehicle driving records. 
  • Fatigue:  Flight and Duty Time Rule -- Directs the FAA to update and implement new pilot flight and duty time rules within one year to more adequately track scientific research in the field of fatigue.  Fatigue Risk Management Systems -- Requires air carriers, within 90 days, to create fatigue risk management systems approved by FAA to proactively mitigate pilot fatigue.  Commuting Study -- Studies the impact of pilot commuting on fatigue and provides preliminary results to the FAA to be considered as part of the flight and duty time rulemaking. 
  • ASAP and FOQA:  Directs the FAA to develop and implement a plan to facilitate the establishment of an Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) and a Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) program by all commercial airlines and their unions.  Report:  Requires FAA to report on ASAP, FOQA, Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA), and Advanced Qualification Program (AQP), which will include: an analysis of which airlines are using the programs or if they are using something comparable that achieves similar safety goals; how FAA will expand the use of the programs; and how FAA is using data from the programs as safety analysis and oversight tools for aviation safety inspectors.
  • Truth in Advertising:  Mandates that Internet websites that sell airline tickets disclose to the purchaser on the first page of the website the air carrier that operates each segment of the flight.