The subject of contract pilots always seems to come up with little warning, like five minutes after someone in the company books a trip in the middle of a regular pilot’s vacation or training. A department manager’s reaction to this kind of crisis ranges from a look of deep confusion to a smile because the solution is already in hand. The solution usually means finding a qualified pilot–now.
Pilot certification in the United States
Some flight schools have gone out of business since September 11 though the actual number is elusive. A National Air Transportation Association spokesman said a member survey taken two weeks after the terrorist attacks yielded shocking results. NATA’s membership conservatively lost between $300 million and $500 million during the period when all flight instruction and VFR flying were banned.
Twenty medical conditions that are serious enough to require special issuance (SI) first- and second-class medicals can now be cleared by an aviation medical examiner (AME) after an initial review by the FAA. This means that once the FAA issues an SI medical certificate, pilots can then go to their AMEs for a renewal, provide all of the necessary medical reports and, if the condition has not changed, leave with another valid SI medical.
Universal Weather & Aviation (Booth No. 7666) has received FAA approval to become an aircraft dispatcher training course provider and is now offering the course to the general public.
The first public six-week course began September 10. The next is scheduled to start November 5.
New technology and tactics are changing flight training against the backdrop of a declining pilot base, fewer student pilot starts and a shortage of flight instructors.
The National Business Aviation Association presents Pilot Safety Awards each year to member-company pilots with exemplary safety records. To be eligible for an award, a pilot must have flown corporate aircraft 1,500 hours without an accident, but the actual number of safe hours flown by many of the top pilots comes close to 30,000 hours.
The Transportation Department’s inspector general told the House aviation subcommittee in July that possible extensions to the durations of medical certificates and the planned raising of the airline pilot retirement age underscore the importance of the medical certification process.
As a result of a number of accidents in which the pilots omitted information or lied about substance and/or alcohol dependence during medical evaluations, and the NTSB later determined that the dependency “was relevant to the cause of the accident,” the Safety Board has recommended three policy changes in regard to the evaluation of pilots with dependency issues.
In the April 23 Federal Register, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued what it called “FairPay” rules that will take effect on August 23. The DOL states, “Under the new FairPay rules, workers earning less than $23,660 per year–or $455 per week–are guaranteed overtime protection.”
Monday is the final day to comment on a proposed rule published by the FAA that, if enacted, would extend the duration of first- and third-class medical certificates for airmen under the age of 40. Currently, the maximum validity of a first-class medical certificate is six months, regardless of age. For a third-class medical certificate, the validity period is 36 months for pilots under 40.