Congressman Brian Higgins spoke out Friday against claims new aviation safety requirements have led to pilot shortages and flight cancellations.
"In the wake of the Colgan Flight 3407 crash in Western New York, Congress passed sweeping new aviation safety requirements, including increasing training for pilots and new policies to protect against pilot fatigue," Higgins said. "Despite the critical importance these regulations will play in preventing future tragedies, some have advanced the dubious claim that these reforms will create a pilot shortage, leading to cancellations and service cuts. Contrary to these claims, a government accountability office study released earlier this week found that, not only does a sufficient pool of trained pilots exist, but that the uncompetitive wages offered by some regional airlines may be to blame for any perceived pilot shortage."
According to the GAO report, there is a more than adequate supply of aviators, but that these aviators may be unwilling to work with the wages and benefits being offered. According to the study, the rising costs of pilot education, coupled with low entry-level pay, may deter individuals from pursuing a pilot career.
Following the crash of Flight 3407 in Western New York in 2010, Higgins, the Western New York delegation, and the families of Flight 3407, worked together to secure passage of P.L. 111-216, which enacted a number of aviation safety reforms in the areas of pilot fatigue and pilot and crewmember training requirements.