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105th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 1st Session                                                    105-372
_______________________________________________________________________


 
        CLARIFICATIONS TO PILOT RECORDS IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 1996
_______________________________________________________________________


October 31, 1997.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Shuster, from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2626]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 2626) to make clarifications to the 
Pilot Records Improvement Act of 1996, and for other purposes, 
having considered the same, report favorably thereon with an 
amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.

    The amendment is as follows:
    Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:

SECTION 1. RECORDS OF EMPLOYMENT OF PILOT APPLICANTS.

    Section 44936(f) of title 49, United States Code, is amended--
          (1) in paragraph (1) by striking ``Before hiring an 
        individual'' and inserting ``Subject to paragraph (14), before 
        allowing an individual to begin service'';
          (2) in paragraph (1)(B) by inserting ``as a pilot of a civil 
        or public aircraft'' before ``at any time'';
          (3) in paragraph (4)--
                  (A) by inserting ``and air carriers'' after 
                ``Administrator''; and
                  (B) by striking ``paragraph (1)(A)'' and inserting 
                ``paragraphs (1)(A) and (1)(B)'';
          (4) in paragraph (5) by striking ``this paragraph'' and 
        inserting ``this subsection'';
          (5) in paragraph (10)--
                  (A) by inserting ``who is or has been'' before 
                ``employed''; and
                  (B) by inserting ``, but not later than 30 days after 
                the date'' after ``reasonable time''; and
          (6) by adding at the end the following:
          ``(14) Special rules with respect to certain pilots.--
                  ``(A) Pilots of certain small aircraft.--
                Notwithstanding paragraph (1), an air carrier, before 
                receiving information requested about an individual 
                under paragraph (1), may allow the individual to begin 
                service for a period not to exceed 90 days as a pilot 
                of an aircraft with a maximum payload capacity (as 
                defined in section 119.3 of title 14, Code of Federal 
                Regulations) of 7,500 pounds or less, or a helicopter, 
                on a flight that is not a scheduled operation (as 
                defined in such section). Before the end of the 90-day 
                period, the air carrier shall obtain and evaluate such 
                information. The contract between the carrier and the 
                individual shall contain a term that provides that the 
                continuation of the individual's employment, after the 
                last day of the 90-day period, depends on a 
                satisfactory evaluation.
                  ``(B) Good faith exception.--Notwithstanding 
                paragraph (1), an air carrier, without obtaining 
                information about an individual under paragraph (1)(B) 
                from an air carrier or other person that no longer 
                exists, may allow the individual to begin service as a 
                pilot if the air carrier required to request the 
                information has made a documented good faith attempt to 
                obtain such information.''.

                                 Report

    Between 1987 and 1994, there were reportedly at least 7 
fatal accidents involving scheduled airlines and pilot error 
where the pilot had demonstrated problems but the airline was 
not required to check the pilot's records before making the 
hiring decision. These accidents include the following:
          A November 15, 1987 Continental Airlines crash at 
        Denver where 25 passengers died;
          A January 19, 1988 Trans-Colorado crash at Durango 
        where 7 passengers died;
          A February 19, 1988 AVAir crash near Raleigh-Durham 
        where all 10 passengers died;
          An October 28, 1989 Aloha Island Air crash in Hawaii 
        where all 18 passengers died;
          An April 22, 1992 Scenic Air crash in Hawaii where 
        all 8 passengers died;
          A December 1993 Express II crash near Hibbing, 
        Minnesota where all 16 passengers died; and
          A December 13, 1994 American Eagle crash near 
        Raleigh-Durham where 13 passengers died.
    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) 
investigated each of these accidents and in 4 of the cases 
(Continental, Aloha, Scenic, and American Eagle) recommended 
that airlines be required to check a pilot's previous 
performance before hiring that pilot. However, the Federal 
Aviation Administration (FAA) took no action to require such 
record checks.
    One year after the American Eagle crash, the Subcommittee 
held a hearing on this issue (``Aviation Safety: Should 
Airlines Be Required to Share Pilot Performance Records? 
Hearings before the Subcommittee on Aviation of the House 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 104-40, 104th 
Congress, 1st Session, (December 13 and 14, 1995)). Most 
witnesses supported legislative action. The NTSB, referring to 
the four accidents in which it had made recommendations in this 
area, testified, at p. 78, that ``[c]ommercial aircraft 
accidents are so rare that to have four in seven years 
attributable, even in part, to a single cause should be--for 
everyone--conclusive evidence of a serious problem.''
    In response, the Committee approved (H. Rept. 104-684) and, 
on July 22, 1996 the House passed 401 to 0, the Airline Pilot 
Hiring and Safety Act (H.R. 3536). This was combined with a 
similar Senate bill, the Pilot Records Improvement Act, and 
incorporated into the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 
1996 as Title V (P.L. 104-264, 110 Stat. 3263 et seq., 49 
U.S.C. 44936(f)).
    This Act required airlines, before hiring a pilot, to 
request the records of that pilot from the FAA, the National 
Driver Register, and the pilot's previous employer. This was 
designed to ensure that airlines would be able to make informed 
hiring decisions.
    Unfortunately, in the one year that this Act has been in 
effect, certain problems have developed. The main problem is 
that the FAA and some airlines have not been able to transfer 
the required records within the 30 days required by the law. 
This has meant delays in hiring decisions. This is a particular 
burden on small aviation businesses that provide air charter 
services.
    H.R. 2626, which was introduced by Congressmen Duncan, 
Shuster, Oberstar, and Lipinski on October 7, 1997, responds to 
this problem by permitting all airlines to hire and train 
pilots before receiving their records. However, they could not 
use the pilot to fly passengers until the records had been 
received and evaluated. This is actually the same as the 
provision that was in the legislation originally passed by the 
House in July of 1996. In addition, the bill provides further 
relief for the small air charter companies by allowing them to 
use the pilot to fly passengers for no more than 90 days before 
receiving that pilot's records.
    This 90-day grace period should not be construed as 
acceptance by the Committee of delays in the transfer of pilot 
records. Rather it is an effort by the Committee to ensure that 
the burden of these delays do not fall disproportionally on the 
smallest aviation businesses. Indeed, the Committee would urge 
the FAA to improve its own performance and to use its 
enforcement powers to ensure that the required records are 
transferred by airlines promptly so that the deadlines in the 
law for such transfers are met.
    Since the Act was passed, questions have also been raised 
about the meaning of some of its provisions.
    One question that has arisen involves exactly which records 
must be requested, received, and maintained by air carriers. 
Section 44936(f)(1)(B) requires the transfer of records 
involving a pilot's proficiency and route checks, airplane and 
route qualifications, training, required physical examinations, 
actions taken concerning release from employment or physical or 
professional disqualification, alcohol and drug test results, 
check airman evaluations, and any disciplinary action that was 
not subsequently overturned.
    All of these requirements are directed toward the 
competency of the individual as a pilot. Indeed, the whole 
thrust of the 1996 Act was to ensure that the airline would 
have the information needed to determine whether the applicant 
was capable of flying the plane safely. While other 
information, such as how the pilot interacts with customers, 
may be important, it is not the focus of this legislation. 
Therefore, while airlines would be free to request and receive 
other information not directly related to the competency of the 
individual as a pilot, the Committee does not consider it to be 
required by the Pilot Records Improvement Act.
    Questions have also been raised about the meaning of 
``disciplinary action taken with respect to the individual that 
was not subsequently overturned'' in section 
44936(f)(1)(B)(ii)(II).
    In the Committee's view, discipline that has been 
``subsequently overturned'' means either discipline that has 
been rescinded as a result of a legitimate settlement agreement 
between the employer and the pilot or the pilot's 
representative or discipline that has been reversed by the 
employer or by a panel or an individual given authority to 
review employment disputes.
    A legitimate settlement agreement could include instances 
where the parties agree that the action that was the subject of 
discipline did not occur or was not the pilot's fault. However, 
it should not include instances where the airline agrees to 
wipe the pilot's record clean in order to pass him or her on to 
another unsuspecting carrier.
    In the Committee's view, in cases where the discipline is 
rescinded or reversed as explained above, the documents 
reflecting the charges underlying the initial decision to 
impose the discipline are not required to be maintained or 
disclosed.

                       Section-by-Section Summary

    Section 1, paragraph (1), changes ``Before hiring an 
individual as a pilot, an air carrier shall request and receive 
the following information'' to ``Subject to paragraph 14, 
before allowing an individual to begin service as a pilot, an 
air carrier shall request and receive the following 
information:'' The key change is the replacing ``hiring an 
individual as a pilot'' with ``allowing the individual to begin 
service as a pilot.'' This will permit airlines to hire and 
begin training pilots before receiving the pilot's records from 
the previous employer. However, the airlines could not let the 
pilot actually transport passengers until it had received the 
records. Further relief is provided for small air taxis as 
described below. This is the same as the version originally 
passed by the House (H.R. 3536). It will provide some 
flexibility to airlines without endangering passengers.
    Section 1, paragraph (2), modifies the word ``individual'' 
by adding after that word the phrase ``as a pilot of a civil or 
public aircraft.'' Under this change, an airline would have to 
request records from another business that employed that 
individual only if that other business employed that individual 
as a pilot of a non-military aircraft. Currently, the law could 
be read to require an airline to request records about a pilot 
applicant from a business that employed that individual in some 
other capacity. For example, if the pilot was a clerk at a 
convenience store while awaiting a flying job, the law may 
require the airline to request records from that store. 
Obviously, those records would have no bearing on that 
individual's piloting skills. This provision would make clear 
that records must be requested only from those former employers 
who employed the individual as a pilot. The words ``civil'' and 
``public'' are added to exclude the military from the 
requirement to supply records. This was the intent of the 
original House-passed bill.
    Section 1, paragraph (3), adds ``air carriers'' to those 
who must maintain pilot records for 5 years. It should have no 
effect since the law already requires airlines to provide 
records upon request for the previous 5 years. Although the law 
requires both the FAA and the airlines to provide records upon 
request to another carrier, the requirement to maintain those 
records applies only to the FAA. This change would resolve that 
apparent drafting oversight and inconsistency.
    Section 1, paragraph (4), amends paragraph (5) of current 
subsection 44936(f) by changing ``a person who receives a 
request for records under this paragraph'' to ``a person who 
receives a request for records under this subsection.'' The 
request for records is made under subsection (f), not paragraph 
(5). This change corrects that drafting error.
    Section (1), paragraph (5), requires an airline to provide 
records requested by a pilot to that pilot within 30 days. 
Current law only requires that the records be provided within a 
reasonable time. This 30-day deadline is consistent with other 
provisions in current section 44936.
    Section (1), paragraph (6) permits a small air taxi to 
allow a pilot to begin transporting passengers before it 
receives the requested records if the pilot will be flying a 
charter using a helicopter or a small aircraft (about 30 seats 
or less). This can continue for only 90 days. By that time, if 
the carrier has not received the records, the pilot would be 
grounded. The employment contract with the pilot must reflect 
this. This provision gives small air taxis added flexibility to 
employ pilots while it awaits that pilot's records. The 
accidents that provided the original impetus for this law all 
involved scheduled commuter operations. Given the nature of the 
operations of the small on-demand air taxis, the pilot record 
sharing requirement has provided them with few safety benefits 
and several burdensome compliance problems. This change 
relieves that burden. Air taxis must still request and receive 
the records and should remove the pilot if the records revealed 
a problem of which the carrier had not been aware.
    Also, this section states that an airline would not be 
prevented from hiring a pilot if it made a documented good 
faith attempt to obtain records but it turns out that one of 
the pilot's previous employers no longer exists. The documented 
effort could be a letter that was sent to the previous employer 
and was returned because the addressee was unknown.

                    Hearings and Legislative History

    The Subcommittee on Aviation held hearings on the issue of 
pilot record sharing on December 13 and 14, 1995. H.R. 2626 was 
introduced on October 7, 1997.
    On October 23, 1997, the Subcommittee on Aviation reported 
the bill, by unanimous voice vote, to the Committee on 
Transportation and Infrastructure. On October 29, 1997, the 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure ordered the bill 
reported, with an amendment, by voice vote with a quorum 
present. There were no recorded votes taken during Committee 
consideration of H.R. 2626.

            Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    With respect to the requirements of clause 2(l)(3)(A) of 
rule XI of the Rules of House of Representatives, the 
Committee's oversight findings and recommendations are 
reflected in this report.

                Applicability to the Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act (Public Law 
104-1).

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of the Federal 
mandates prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act (Public Law 104-4).

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause (2)(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, committee reports on a bill or joint 
resolution of a public character shall include a statement 
citing the specific powers granted to the Congress in the 
Constitution to enact the measure. The Committee on 
Transportation and Infrastructure finds that Congress has the 
authority to enact this measure pursuant to its powers granted 
under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

                        Costs of the Legislation

    Clause 7 of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives does not apply where a cost estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974 has been timely submitted prior to the filing of the 
report and is included in the report. Such a cost estimate is 
included in this report.

                     Compliance With House Rule XI

    1. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(B) of 
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the 
Committee references the report of the Congressional Budget 
Office included below.
    2. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(D) of 
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee has received no report of oversight findings and 
recommendations from the Committee on Government Reform and 
Oversight on the subject of H.R. 2626.
    3. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(C) of 
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the 
Committee has received the following cost estimate for H.R. 
2626 from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office.

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, October 31, 1997.
Hon. Bud Shuster,
Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2626, a bill to 
make clarifications to the Pilot Records Improvement Act of 
1996, and for other purposes.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Clare 
Doherty (for federal costs) and Jean Wooster (for the impact on 
the private sector).
            Sincerely,
                                              James L. Blum
                                   (For June E. O'Neill, Director).
    Enclosure.

               congressional budget office cost estimate

H.R. 2626--A bill to make clarifications to the Pilot Records 
        Improvement Act of 1996, and for other purposes

    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2626 would not have a 
significant impact on the federal budget. Because the bill 
would not affect direct spending or receipts, pay-as-you-go 
procedures would not apply. The bill contains no 
intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act of 1995 and would not have a significant impact on 
the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments.
    H.R. 2626 would impose a federal private-sector mandate on 
air carriers. The bill would require that air carriers maintain 
pilot records for at least five years. Under current law, 
before hiring an individual as a pilot, air carriers are 
required to request those records from that person's employers 
during the five-year period preceding the application for 
employment. Since air carriers already maintain those records, 
CBO estimates that they would incur no additional costs.
    H.R. 2626 would amend Public Law 104-264, the Federal 
Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996, and would give air 
carriers the ability to allow pilots to fly certain planes for 
a period not to exceed 90 days before receiving employment 
records. Based on information from the Federal Aviation 
Administration, the amendments to Public Law 104-264 could 
require more oversight and a slight increase in the workload 
for inspectors but would not result in significant additional 
costs to the federal government.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Clare 
Doherty (for federal costs) and Jean Wooster (for the impact on 
the private sector). This estimate was approved by Robert A. 
Sunshine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by the 
bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law proposed 
to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new matter is 
printed in italic, existing law in which no change is proposed 
is shown in roman):

             SECTION 44936 OF TITLE 49, UNITED STATES CODE

Sec. 44936. Employment investigations and restrictions

  (a) * * *
          * * * * * * *
  (f) Records of Employment of Pilot Applicants.--
          (1) In general.--[Before hiring an individual] 
        Subject to paragraph (14), before allowing an 
        individual to begin service as a pilot, an air carrier 
        shall request and receive the following information:
                  (A) * * *
          * * * * * * *
                  (B) Air carrier and other records.--From any 
                air carrier or other person that has employed 
                the individual as a pilot of a civil or public 
                aircraft at any time during the 5-year period 
                preceding the date of the employment 
                application of the individual, or from the 
                trustee in bankruptcy for such air carrier or 
                person--
                          (i) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (4) Requirement to maintain records.--The 
        Administrator and air carriers shall maintain pilot 
        records described in [paragraph (1)(A)] paragraphs 
        (1)(A) and (1)(B) for a period of at least 5 years.
          (5) Receipt of consent; provision of information.--A 
        person shall not furnish a record in response to a 
        request made under paragraph (1) without first 
        obtaining a copy of the written consent of the 
        individual who is the subject of the records requested. 
        A person who receives a request for records under [this 
        paragraph] this subsection shall furnish a copy of all 
        of such requested records maintained by the person not 
        later than 30 days after receiving the request.
          * * * * * * *
          (10) Right of pilot to review certain records.--
        Notwithstanding any other provision of law or 
        agreement, an air carrier shall, upon written request 
        from a pilot who is or has been employed by such 
        carrier, make available, within a reasonable time, but 
        not later than 30 days after the date of the request, 
        to the pilot for review, any and all employment records 
        referred to in paragraph (1)(B) (i) or (ii) pertaining 
        to the employment of the pilot.
          * * * * * * *
          (14) Special rules with respect to certain pilots.--
                  (A) Pilots of certain small aircraft.--
                Notwithstanding paragraph (1), an air carrier, 
                before receiving information requested about an 
                individual under paragraph (1), may allow the 
                individual to begin service for a period not to 
                exceed 90 days as a pilot of an aircraft with a 
                maximum payload capacity (as defined in section 
                119.3 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations) 
                of 7,500 pounds or less, or a helicopter, on a 
                flight that is not a scheduled operation (as 
                defined in such section). Before the end of the 
                90-day period, the air carrier shall obtain and 
                evaluate such information. The contract between 
                the carrier and the individual shall contain a 
                term that provides that the continuation of the 
                individual's employment, after the last day of 
                the 90-day period, depends on a satisfactory 
                evaluation.
                  (B) Good faith exception.--Notwithstanding 
                paragraph (1), an air carrier, without 
                obtaining information about an individual under 
                paragraph (1)(B) from an air carrier or other 
                person that no longer exists, may allow the 
                individual to begin service as a pilot if the 
                air carrier required to request the information 
                has made a documented good faith attempt to 
                obtain such information.