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FAA: How Do You Deregulate When Everything Is Working?

by Countable | 11.28.17

What’s the story?

There’s a shortage of eligible pilots for entry-level positions at regional airlines, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aims to help. They’re adding a regulation to allow military flight hours in certain kinds of aircraft not allowed previously to count towards minimum FAA experience levels.

But they’re not removing regulations at the same time, which was mandated by the president’s 2-for-1regulatory swap executive order, which has significant implications for federal agencies.

Why does it matter?

The Wall Street Journal reports, "The expense and time needed to build up requisite civilian flight hours before being allowed to fly passengers, according to industry officials, has discouraged some military applicants and reduced the pool of acceptable pilot candidates for certain airlines."

The agency is not proposing to reduce the requisite number of hours required under existing regulations, just to widen the net to catch types of flight experience not previously counted.

Yet they are not scrubbing two regulations while adding this one, which is what was mandated by President Trump’s deregulation executive order. How are they managing that?

The FAA argues that the new regulation "counts" as deregulation because, “the proposed changes “result in cost savings” rather than additional financial burdens.” The White House has agreed, stating that the initiative falls “outside of the scope” of the president’s executive order.

The cost savings are expected to come through simplified FAA record keeping, as well as tens of thousands of dollars saved by individual pilots no longer required to pay for extra flight hours to meet civilian requirements.

In the administrative push for deregulation the FAA occupies an unusual position. Record low commercial accident rates make it difficult to justify tighter rules from a cost-benefit perspective. But that means existing regulations are working, so justifications for removing them are also difficult.

This new method of "deregulation" by tying new regulations to cost savings, therefore, allows the agency to keep existing regulations in place and meet administrative expectations. The implications for other agencies focused on public safety could be extensive.

What do you think?

Should this FAA initiative count as "deregulation"? Is this a potentially creative way for agency heads to address public safety while also satisfying proponents of smaller government, or is it a shell game? Is giving veterans easier access to civilian jobs worth not reducing regulations overall?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

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