Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), a member of Commerce, Science and Transportation, today questioned Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta about pilot training requirements that impact Indianapolis-based Republic Airways and Purdue University's Aviation Technology School during a committee hearing on aviation safety.
"A strong aviation industry is vital to Indiana's economy and to job creation," said Coats. "The industry serves the air transportation needs of 6.5 million Hoosiers, directly supports more than 69,000 Hoosier jobs and contributes over $14 billion in economic output. I want to be sure that the conditions exist to allow for the continued health and growth of this important sector of Indiana's economy while also ensuring it is as safe as possible."
Coats questioned Huerta about the implementation of recent regulations that make it more difficult to become an airline pilot. Companies like Republic Airways that compete in the regional airline industry are concerned that these regulations, combined with rapidly expanding and lucrative foreign airline jobs, will lead to a pilot shortage in the United States and negatively impact the industry. Additionally, a pilot shortage could either reduce or eliminate air service for smaller communities around Indiana and the United States.
The regulations also impact the Aviation Technology School's professional flight technology major. Universities like Purdue, who are producing competent pilots that are already flying in airline environments, may see a reduction in enrollments as changes to flight training standards result in an increased cost burden on future pilots.