Flight Regulations: Seeing the Unseen

Writing yesterday at The American, Ike Brannon displays excellent “seeing the unseen” logic evaluating problems with a new state regulation. Following orders from legislation passed in 2010, the FAA recently began requiring pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of flight time before sitting in the cockpit of a commercial plane. Like with most regulations, this one makes sense at a cursory level but is fraught with poor logic once it’s implications are understood.

First of all, requiring pilots have more flight time before piloting commercial planes restricts the supply of pilots available to commercial airliners. This drives up costs to airliners, some of which is passed on to customers. The result: fewer flights and more people driving on dangerous highways.

Additionally, some flight schools (I assume the “better” schools) are exempted from this requirement, which will boost their application numbers at the expense of non-exempted schools and give them every reason to hike tuition (their students will, after all, face a smaller flight time requirement and become wage-earning pilots sooner than peers at non-exempted schools).

Brannon writes:

Requiring that pilots have more flight hours may seem like a sensible government action designed to protect us, but the reality is that it will destroy jobs, increase the cost of flying, and results in more people dying in transit [on highways].

I’m no expert on the airline industry, flight school or flight time requirements, but I do know that quality control is best managed by the market — not government bureaucrats.

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