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Higgins Welcomes Action on Long-Overdue Pilot Records Database, Urges Administration to Work Swiftly toward Full Implementation

Aug 31, 2019
Press Release
Congressman says: “Each passing day represents a failure to fully protect the 2.7 million daily passengers as intended under the 2010 law”

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) learned that the Secretary of Transportation has forwarded a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” on the Pilot Records Database to the Office of Management and Budget for formal review.

Higgins released the following statement in response: 

“Based on the difficult lessons we learned following the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407, the families of Flight 3407 fought for and Congress approved various measures to improve transparency and safety for the flying public.  It has been over 9 years since that law was signed, and almost two years since there has been any notable action on the Pilot Record Database.  Each passing day represents a failure to fully protect the 2.7 million daily passengers as intended under the 2010 law.  Following years of delay, any progress toward implementation is certainly welcome. However, this prolonged pace is completely unreasonable. The Administration should act swiftly on full Pilot Record Database implementation.”

The Pilot Records Database, required in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill of 2010, has been in a beta test phase since December 2017 with no clear indication from the FAA of when the database will be fully executed and required for all pilot hiring. 

Through the Pilot Records Database, a commercial airline will be able to see information regarding employment history, training, certifications, and status of national driver registry records.

In May Congressman Higgins led a bipartisan letter signed by 24 Members of the House of Representatives in which they, “urge the FAA to make full implementation of the PRD a priority and to provide the timeline for implementation as soon as possible.”

Members go on to say, “The Captain of Flight 3407 was hired with only 600 hours of flight experience at his first regional airline job and had previously failed three Federal Aviation Administration check rides, only having disclosed one to the regional airline that hired him. This is one of several reasons the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) Accident Report concluded the incident was entirely avoidable and attributable to pilot error. Based on recommendations from the NTSB, the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-216), enacted major legislative reforms including the establishment of a Pilot Records Database to prevent such a circumstance from occurring in the future.”  

February 12, 2019 marked ten years after Colgan Air Flight 3407 tragically crashed to the ground in Clarence Center, New York, killing all passengers and crew members on board and one person on the ground. In April the Families of Flight 3407 met with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to discuss the Pilot Records Database issue.

The captain of Flight 3407 failed three practical tests known as “check rides” but only disclosed one to the regional airline that hired him.   The Pilot Record Database would provide information such as FAA records and qualifications, practical test results, past legal enforcement actions, and driver records to air carriers, to make informed, transparent hiring decisions.