Congressman Adrian Smith says new pilot regulations are crippling air travel in rural America and could spread to cities all over the world.
Smith has been pushing to ease 2014 FAA regulations greatly increasing the hours pilots must train and the rest between flights they must take.
Smith contends the regulations have created a pilot shortage which has disrupted air travel throughout the Third District and beyond.
“This is not just about Kearney, North Platte, Scottsbluff, Alliance, Chadron, and Grand Island. This is a nation-wide and like I said I think, ultimately, even an international issue,” according to Smith. “We don’t want to hamstring U.S. airlines the taxpayers have had to bail out in the past.”
Smith says the growing number of cancellations not only disrupts travel plans, it prevents many small airports from clocking the flights needed to qualify for federal infrastructure funding.
Smith would like the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to include the Small Airport Regulation Relief Act he sponsors in the next Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization.
The new FAA regulations went into effect at the beginning of last year. The FAA increased the hours co-pilots need to train from 250 to 1,500. Pilots must now take 30 hours of rest each week, a 25% increase.
Smith says the new regulations have disrupted air travel not just in Nebraska, but throughout the country.
H.R. 853, the Small Airport Regulation Relief Act, would direct the FAA to use enplanement numbers from 2012 when calculating appropriate annual funds for airports under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) for the next two years. The federal money can be used for runways, taxiways, aprons, noise control, land purchases, navigational aids, as well as safety and security.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]