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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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(16)
  • RadicalModerate
    11/28/2017
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    There’s not an Air Force pilot shortage. There’s a surplus of war.

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  • KenBudris
    11/28/2017
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    This is the first clear example of why Trump’s executive order was “bad, very bad.”

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  • Hillary
    11/28/2017
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    This is such a tangled question! If we are enjoying record lows in pilot accidents that seems like a very good thing and why mess with it? If we are experiencing a pilot shortage why assume that it is solely because pilots have to pay for commercial flight hours? Does that not technically count as “tuition”? Maybe we should be looking at other causes like working conditions, salary, benefits, adequate time off, mental health support for a stressful occupation- maybe those things aren’t attractive enough to draw qualified applicants. We’ve done the same with teachers (and other professionals) we need them badly and yet we constantly peck away at their pay and benefits, talk them down in certain media, regulate the classroom so much that teachers are legally constrained from teaching. Then we point the finger and say we knew you were not worth paying. If we make being a commercial pilot an attractive enough position pilots will come.

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  • burrkitty
    11/28/2017
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    This is a industry near and dear to me. My spouse is in avionics. I have several friends who are pilots and spouses of pilots. The shortage is not just in the air, but in the ground as well. It takes 4 to 5 ground crew to keep 1 air crew member in the sky. If you think that most of the daily flights need a minimum of 2 flight and 2 cabin crew, that 16-20 ground crew. While some of the jobs are unskilled, many of them are highly technical and need several years of training. At the same time, the number of A&P licensed technicians is dropping off. So we begin to lack both pilots to fly the planes and technicians to repair and maintain them. Lack of crew grounds planes in many places around the world. This isn't so big a problem in WA state where Boeing lives and avionics is a known and respected career, but elsewhere the industry is scrambling to get qualified people. Cutting regulations may get more people in the industry, but at what cost to safety? My spouse is aware that his work holds the lives of hundreds of people per flight per day. Getting it wrong kills lots of people when you work on planes and every accident involves 2-300 innocent passengers. So perhaps the "Cut 2 for Every New" isn't a great idea.

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  • Ticktock
    11/28/2017
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    First there is a shortage of pilots in the military as well, so much so that the military is considering a réactivation and retraining program for pilots. Second some regulations needed to be reviewed and eliminated but regulations are created when they are needed and because that need has been made abundantly evident. Just because someone who sees himself or herself as a expert on everything says that two regs must go for every one created doesn’t impress me as someone with a lot of intelligence. Remember the claim to fame that the Trump Administration is going to have is the damage it’s done to the US Government and our infrastructure.

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  • David
    11/28/2017
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    Fixing it when it isn’t broken. Why? So Trump can brag that he deregulated and when he does he’ll undoubtedly lie that it was terrible before and now it’s great, and any other story to the contrary will certainly be fake news. This is about lies for the campaign trail and not about what’s needed. This is the problem with a moron being president.

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  • Ted
    11/28/2017
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    If more healthcare providers followed the successful policy of the domestic airlines, and mandated the use of checklists, surgery would be safer. The “Checklist Manifesto” has carried this message for a decade, but medical egos are resistant to learning. Airlines have very low rates of safety incidents, because they follow the best practices, as specified by regulations, and their suppliers. Safety in air travel benefits us all, because of regulations, training, and practice. Maybe Congress needs schooling?

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  • Terry
    11/28/2017
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    Maybe there’s enough planes in the air now ? Someone flying hundreds of people should be the cream of the crop.

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  • Ochoninja
    11/28/2017
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    Military flight hours should count as long as qualifications are the same.

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  • S
    11/28/2017
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    The eliminate 2 regulations for every one proposed is a shoot from the hip management. Thought, obtaining information, analysis and planning are some characteristics in an effective leader. Trump is not an effective leader. Military pilots retire with a significant, military pension with far fewer years and a significantly lower age requirement than the private sector. Why would you want to give that up to work for companies which are notorious for bungling customer service, and planning. More pilots won’t solve that. I have a concern that using this type of arrangement will be used to eliminate or reduce private sector requirements thus putting poorly or unqualified individuals into sensitive positions. Govt already is doing that. Examples: Rex Tillerson. Running a big company is not even close to requirements of Secy of State. He is focused on what he knows—reorganization. Ben Carson’s qualification for running Housing is that he lives in a house. Jared Kushner’s real estate enterprise equates to the ability to reach a peace agreement in the Middle East. And there is Trump. Enough said.

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  • Phillip
    11/29/2017
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    This is bogus. There is no real shortage as such. There is a lack of willingness to start at food stamps salaries with upward of $100,000 in debt to pay off followed by years of being poorly paid and badly treated with no career progression. Then if and only if you discover the magic spell to get you into a major with all that experience you start again at a lesser salary for equal qualifications and sometimes more experience than the guys there. There is no correlation between military time and being able to be a useful cockpit member of a multi crew multi engine airplane. The system is flawed greatly. Until someone comes up with a fix which I doubt will happen we will get down to automated aircraft or drones with a single system intervener to take over. Once that’s proven to be acceptable to many they will become drones and the pilot will sit in a room somewhere. The only things holding hat ceo dream back is public perception and the lack of capability of the current Boeing’s flying around.

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  • Donna
    11/28/2017
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    We should do everything we can to aid and support our vets. Unlike the self-centered upper 1%, the men and women who make up our military ranks are the 1% of Americans who truly matter. They sacrifice everything for our country and we should react in kind. This is another example of the stupidity and short-sighted transactional view of the slew of EOs signed since January. Not all government is "a mess". Not everything should be screwed with. Not all things Obama or historical are bad. It is about time someone in Congress took a rational view of this Administration (and themselves) and put sanity, respect and common sense back into our institutions before they truly are destroyed. If the FAA is functioning as intended, forcing a change just to force a change is not only stupid, it is dangerous. Since most of this Administration likes to fly private jets, they will not be affected by the shortage or this order. Unfortunately those of us that pay their salaries will.

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  • Gerald
    11/29/2017
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    I agree with Terry. Perhaps there are (more than) enough planes in the air already. Why more urban/rural noise and pollution. We already have many more passenger jets, Asian and domestic freight airliners, more planes and flights of every sort than we did 5 years ago. When is enough enough? The FAA does poorly at regulating what they’ve got.

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  • August
    12/24/2017
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    The taxpayer paid military trained pilot pool is drying up. Don’t lower the standards, but make the airlines pay for their pilots training. When there was a shortage of mechanics, the airlines paid for the training.

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  • Harmon
    11/29/2017
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    The best pilots in the world are military trained. They do more hours training than most civilian trained pilots, not just in being a pilot but in discipline and scores of other categories.

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  • DEGUp
    11/29/2017
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    Absence of accidents is not proof that regulations are the cause, as the article suggests. There can be many factors involved, but reduced accident rates are more likely driven by people not wanting to die or not wanting to be responsible for people dying and making choices that result in more reliable aircraft. In fact, it’s not difficult to make the alternate case that regulations have slowed the adoption of safer technologies or resulted in less safe unintended consequences that have cost lives.

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