Congressional hearing examines pilot experience, safety enforcement

Speaking before a House Transportation aviation subcommittee Wednesday, ATA President and CEO James May said that while federal regulations historically have stressed that commuter airline management is responsible for safety, "Responsibility can't be delegated or assumed by others," he said. The FAA's goal of "one level of safety" for the entire industry translates into "one level of enforcement," May said. The FAA has proposed legislation calling for new standards on training and monitoring of possible pilot fatigue. The head of the Air Line Pilots Association said his industry needs to offer standardized training, more flight time and better entry-level salaries to attract the best pilots. Capt. John Prater was one of several witnesses who suggested improvements in pilot training and rules. Jeffrey Skiles, vice president of the Coalition of Airline Pilots, testified that "over the past several years, there has been a dramatic drop in the experience level of new hire pilots in our nation's cockpits as airlines sacrifice experience for the bottom line."

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