Regional Express has made a submission to the Senate inquiry on pilot training standards opposing a proposal to follow recent US legislation which would prevent a pilot from airline flying unless they have completed a minimum of 1500 hours.
The proposed minimum hour rule is being examined by the Senate Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport as part of an inquiry into pilot training in Australia. Some groups, such as the Australian and International Pilots’ Association (AIPA), are pressing for a similar minimum hours mandate for Australia, particularly in the light of the growth in ab initio cadet schemes which would produce first officers with only 200 hours of flying experience. AIPA in particular has suggested that the FAA standard be adopted locally.
Rex managing director Jim Davis said that to implement a 1500 hours minimum would have major impacts on the local aviation industry.”This would have a disastrous effect amongst small and regional operators as their pilot ranks would get plundered by the larger airlines as we saw in FY08, when Rex lost half its pilots to the major airlines in one year. To stay in operation, the smaller operators would have no choice but to accept pilots from General Aviation with sufficient minimum hours but who may not have the desired skill level to be an airline pilot. This would lead to the opposite effect intended by the proposal,” he said.
Instead, Davis, a one-time chief pilot at Rex, noted that the inquiry should consider the quality rather than the quantity of flight training.
The minimum hours issue comes as the FAA is starting to look at other ways that pilots may be able to meet the mandated 1500 flying hours minimum following consultation with the airline industry in the US. In particular one proposal has been put forward which would see pilots require only 500 flying hours provided other training courses are undertaken.