FAA Delays in Establishing a Pilot Records Database Limit Air Carriers’ Access to Background Information
Ensuring air carriers have all available information on a pilot’s training and performance remains a critical safety area for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The 2010 Airline Safety and Extension Act mandated that FAA create a pilot records database to ensure pilot records are retained for the life of the pilot and that air carriers review those records when making hiring decisions.
FAA’s progress in developing and implementing the pilot records database remains limited, and its completion remains uncertain. The Agency does not expect to issue a related rulemaking until 2017, and the database will likely not be fully implemented until more than a decade after Congress mandated its creation in 2010. Moreover, FAA has yet to make key decisions regarding how to incorporate historical records or how air carriers will transition to and access the database. In the meantime, air carriers, in large part, do not have all relevant pilot records available to review when evaluating pilot applicants. Specifically, FAA has not determined whether air carriers have followed through on their voluntary commitments to request additional records from FAA when hiring new pilots. As a result, air carriers are not able to fully evaluate prior performance when deciding whether to hire a pilot.
We made three recommendations to FAA to better manage its implementation of the pilot records database and ensure that air carriers have all available information on a pilot’s training performance. FAA concurred with all three recommendations. Based on FAA’s response, we consider two recommendations open but resolved, and we are requesting additional information for one recommendation.