FAA Releases Proposed Pilot Database Rule

Credit: Southwest Airlines

WASHINGTON—Under a proposed new regulation, air carriers would be required to enter and share pilot records in an FAA-managed Pilot Records Database (PRD) before making hiring decisions.

Published in the Federal Register on Mar. 30, the FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) affects air carriers, entities conducting public aircraft operations, air tour operators, fractional ownership programs and corporate flight departments. 

Pilots would be required to provide consent for an air carrier to access their records during the hiring process. The records-sharing requirement also would apply to commercial drone operators holding Part 107 remote pilot certificates when an unmanned aircraft system is used in air carrier operations.

Over 10 years through 2030, the FAA estimates the regulation would cost the industry and government $12.8 million. Operators would incur costs to train and register as users of the electronic database and to report pilot records to the PRD.

The NPRM separately proposes a user fee to cover the FAA’s operation and maintenance costs of the database, amounting to an estimated $1.9 million annually over 10 years. 

Comments on the proposed rule are due by June 29.

“This proposed rule would enhance aviation safety by assisting air carriers in making informed hiring and personnel management decisions using the most accurate and complete pilot records available and electronically accessible,” the NPRM states.

The database would contain information the FAA maintains on current airman certificates and associated type ratings and current medical certificates, airman practical test failures and summaries of legal enforcement actions, the agency says.

“The PRD would contain air carrier, operator and FAA records on an individual’s performance as a pilot that could be used as a hiring tool in an air carrier’s decision-making process for pilot employment,” the FAA adds. “These records would remain in the PRD for the life of the pilot.”

The NPRM is a response to several open NTSB recommendations, including recommendations stemming from the Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash in February 2009, and requirements that Congress enacted in the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010. The latter legislation required the FAA to establish an electronic PRD and provided for expiration of the Pilot Records Improvement Act of 1996.

Reauthorization legislation Congress passed in 2016 called for the FAA to establish a PRD by Apr. 30, 2017, according to the NPRM.

Bill Carey

Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and uncrewed aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.