AABI releases Phase IV of ongoing Pilot Source Study

The Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) has released Phase IV of its ongoing Pilot Source Study (PSS), a study of regional airline hiring and training, which confirms the effectiveness of restricted ATP programmes.
The study evaluated pre-hire experience and training performance of regional airline pilots before and after implementation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) 2013 First Officer Qualifications (FOQ) regulations.
Phase IV of the PSS has shown that pilots entering the workforce with high hours in flight required the most additional training once hired, and new hire pilots with high hours in flight also failed or dropped out of airline training programmes at the highest rates. According to AABI, pilots with higher hours in flight, whose flying time is often unstructured, are faring worse in airline training programmes than their lower time counterparts.
Having shown that pilots from recent restricted ATP (R-ATP) backgrounds perform significantly better in training than pilots with higher hours in flight, the AABI believes these pathways should be supported and expanded to continue the advancement of aviation safety.
The board goes on to reference an airline-based R-ATP pathway called the Air Carrier Enhanced Part 121 Training Programme (ACE R-ATP) developed by the Regional Airline Association (RAA), which is intended to work within the established regulatory framework and meet the mandates and objectives of Congress.
The ACE R-ATP offers an enhanced pathway to the commercial airline cockpit through a structured combination of flight time, mentoring, and specific competencies—ultimately offering a higher level of safety than existing regulations. It was formed through the collaborative efforts of regional and major airline training experts and includes advisory guidance from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Faye Malarkey Black, president of the RAA, commented, “The ACE R-ATP addresses, head-on, a key finding that the industry is currently forced to engage in remedial training of newly-hired pilots, especially of those pilots hired with high flight hours.”
While the proposal comes at a time when the current pilot shortage has led to service disruptions and air service reductions at airports across the nation, Black emphasises the ACE R-ATP pathway is a safety-first measure: “The ACE R-ATP will reconnect the pilot pipeline and restore career certainty to the profession. More importantly, the ACE-R-ATP pathway will materially advance safety by allowing airlines to hire the most proficient pilots and support them through a comprehensive program designed to provide additional, airline-based structure, oversight, and training.
“Our program seeks to provide an enhanced pathway for training and oversight while increasing the accessibility of aviation as a career choice. We are confident it will deliver squarely on these objectives, ensuring our nation’s skies remain the safest,” Black concluded.

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