The One Fear To Rule Them All
- Advanced Aircrew Academy
"One fear to rule them all, one fear to find them, one fear to bring them all and in the black box bind them" - J.R.R. Tolkien
You might have thought Tolkien was referring to the FAA, but the fear that rules them all is the fear of the unknown.
There has been both whispering and yelling about the upcoming Pilot Records Database (PRD) rule, so I am going to reveal the unknown. You might not like what is revealed, but at least then your fear will be changed to frustration, but I can do something about that.
The Pilot Records Database (PRD)
The Pilot Records Database rule is in final review and its predicted outcome will affect corporate operators by requiring them to include their pilots' records in the electronic pilot record database. This would include corporate Part 91 flight departments which has previously not been required in this record keeping requirement.
The Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) was born in 1996 from a series of airline accidents that were attributed to pilot error. The investigations found that these pilots had a history of poor performance and their backgrounds were never investigated by their current employers. The airlines pushed back and said they had no power to require pilots and previous employers to disclose failed training events.
The Atlas Air flight 3591 that crashed in 2019 revealed that the First Officer had deliberately concealed a spotty training record and Atlas Air was unaware at the time of his hiring. The NTSB report said the pilot, "took advantage of shortcomings in the FAA pilot records database", but the same records also confirmed that both pilots had failed check rides while at Atlas Air, so they were aware of the current failures at the time of the accident. It's a circular story, but the FAA is trying to break that cycle and pull pilots with consistent safety issues out of the commercial pilot herd.
PRIA has an amendment which is supposed to require the FAA to record ALL training failures in a database. This means operators need to get, retain, and track that. Training failures are now supposed to follow a pilot throughout their career; however, due to privacy concerns and industry opposition from Business Aviation operators, the provision was never fully implemented. Now that the industry has had another accident traced back to the failure of the original intent of the PRD, you can bet that despite the strong pushback from Business Aviation, the new rules are coming and will be enforced.
How PRIA Works
If you want to hire a new Part 135 pilot, you need to send a form (request of records FAA 8060-11) to each operator that your applicant has reported working for. It must be signed by the potential new hire pilot, acknowledging that you are going to be requesting this information.
If you employed the pilot more than five years ago, you do not have to respond to the request. You should also NOT respond if you did not receive a copy of the pilot/applicant's written consent for you to release such information, but you should notify the requester why you're not responding (legalities galore).
Because the form is being filled out and sent from the hiring company to the previous operator directly, there is no actual database to submit the records to using this method.
As the person receiving a records question under the authority of PRIA:
- You must furnish a copy of the appropriate records to the requestor no later than 30 days after receiving the request (49 U.S.C. § 44703 (h) (5)).
- You must furnish an identical copy, if so requested, to the applicant on or before 20 days after receiving the request (49 U.S.C. § 44703(h)(6)).
- You must furnish a written notification to the applicant to satisfy 49 U.S.C. § 44703 (h) (6), if the processing time will exceed 20 days. In other words, an additional document is required to provide written notification if the response time will be over 20 days, but in no case longer than the authorized 30-day period.
Which Records Must You Furnish – Part 135
- Compliance records, including full name, pilot certificate (by type and number), ratings and aeronautical experience.
- Current duties and the date of assignment to those duties.
- Date and result of each of the initial/recurrent competency tests and proficiency and route checks required by part 135 and the type of aircraft flown during that test or check.
- Check pilot authorization (if any).
- Release from employment for physical or professional disqualification that the employer did not subsequently overturn.
- Date of the completion of the initial phase and each recurrent phase of the training required by part 135.
- Drug testing records, including confirmed alcohol test results indicating an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater and verified positive drug test results or refusals of either.
- Documentation of other violations of DOT agency drug and alcohol testing regulations.
- Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) reports.
- All follow up test results and schedules for follow up tests, including documentation of the return-to-duty test.
- Information obtained from previous employers concerning drug and/or alcohol violations.
- Records of negative and cancelled drug test results, and confirmed alcohol test results with an alcohol concentration of less than 0.039.
- Disciplinary Actions that Resulted in Termination of Employment. Report any disciplinary actions you took against the pilot that played any role in the individual’s termination or release from employment.
- Part 91 and 135 – Disciplinary Actions Involving Pilot’s Performance. Only report disciplinary actions unrelated to an individual’s termination or release from employment if the actions involved the individual’s performance as a pilot and the employer did not subsequently overturn them.
- Part 91 and 135 – You should not report other employment-related actions that have nothing to do with the pilot’s aeronautical duties that resulted in a disciplinary action, but did not result in discharge or termination.
Which Records Must You Furnish – Part 91
Currently, if you operate solely under part 91, then you do not have to request PRIA records when hiring pilots. The proposed rule would require owners/operators with two or more aircraft that require a type rating to at least track, enter, and retain pilot information into the database. That information would then be used by other operators during their pilot vetting process.
Part 91 operators (other than 91.147 operators) are currently not required to establish or maintain pilot records under PRIA, but you are still required to respond to a PRIA request regarding a former employee by providing any documents you accumulated over the past five years that would provide relevant and useful background information concerning the pilot's experience, proficiency, and safety history. If you have no information concerning the individual, you should send a response to the record requestor stating so.
You might've already picked up on some of the peripheral issues, but if you have not told your current employer you are looking for a new flying job, they will find out when they get the PRIA request.
Remember that pilots may provide FAA data to prospective employers either through the PRIA form OR online through PRD, so the incentive for using the PRD is being able to discretely apply for another pilot position, but that only works if your employer has been using the PRD to update training record information.
With the intent of compiling all data into one platform to up/download information, that also means one bad day in training or a personality conflict with a check airman will result in a mark on your record that will follow you for the rest of your career. There is no such thing as a perfect checkride, so be prepared to talk about the cliché weaknesses question during the interview and how you have overcome it. Even Bob Hoover would have something to talk about.
Record Keeping Solution
No matter what happens, robust record keeping is key for both pilots and operators. Advanced Aircrew Academy's software is designed for aviation. We know how to prevent and cure your paperwork headaches by providing you complete training documentation. All student progress, usage time, marks, etc., are tracked in detail. You can include all of your training, even from other vendors, into our platform.
We provide clients with a special login account for their supervisors/managers which gives you access to the following information via the web at any time:
- Module/training curriculum progress
- Login Time
- Exams Review
Quizzes and exams are stored in their completed format so you can view and print them any time. Upon successful completion of a module, a Certificate of Completion is automatically emailed to the student and/or whoever you designate to receive them.
We'll check under the bed and open the closet doors for you to make sure there are no ground training record monsters waiting to hand you over to the FAA.
Lynch, Kerry. 2021. FAA’s Dickson Highlights Records Rule, AAM Progress. AINonline. Retrieved 3/29/21.
Pimental, Dan. 2020. NBAA, AOPA Member Pilots Weigh in on Changes to Pilot Records Database. Survey finds very few pilots are on board with proposed changes. Flying Magazine. Retrieved 3/30/21.