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Allied Pilots Association: “Lowering the Bar is a Terrible Idea”

FORT WORTH, Texas (June 16, 2023) – The Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, voiced its opposition to the proposed Enhanced Qualification Program (EQP), which would provide a 250-hour reduction in the actual flight experience requirements for a Restricted Air Transport Pilot certificate after completion of an air carrier-developed training course.

The pending Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act, which would reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration and associated safety and infrastructure programs for the next five years, includes an EQP amendment.

“Under what has been proposed, a pilot could be flying passengers in FAR 121 operations with as few as 500 hours of actual flight experience,” said APA President Capt. Ed Sicher. “It’s difficult to imagine that anyone remotely familiar with the rigors of our profession thinks that is a good idea. To the contrary, when it comes to minimum flight experience requirements, lowering the bar is a terrible idea.

“This ill-conceived EQP proposal doesn’t even include basic details such as when the ground-school training would be provided, which means it could run concurrently with airline initial training, resulting in no additional training at all,” he said. “For the sake of aviation safety, we urge lawmakers to reject this amendment.”

Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration rejected outright a similar proposal by Republic Airways for its Lift Academy — which is an EQP training program — due to safety deficiencies. In its decision, the FAA declared that “the relief requested is not in the public interest and would adversely affect safety.”

“The United States leads the world in aviation safety, having reduced airline passenger fatalities by 99.8 percent since the implementation of the current pilot training and qualification rules after a series of tragic accidents,” Sicher said. “There is no defensible reason whatsoever to put that stellar safety record at risk, and there should be no changes to the minimum flight experience requirements for airline pilots – period!”

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association — the largest independent pilots union in the United States — is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, including several hundred pilots on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union’s website is