Dr. Guy Smith & Professor Michelle Hight

2018 Pilot Source Study

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Dr. Guy M. Smith, Professor Emeritus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Dr. Guy M. Smith has been the Principal Investigator of the Pilot Source Study, conducted in 2010, 2012, 2015, and 2018. He has briefed the Pilot Source Studies to the US Senate, the FAA, NTSB, and many aviation industry members. The Pilot Source Study is published on https://www.pilotsourcestudy.org/. Guy is the chairman of the Collaborative Research Committee under the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI); the Pilot Source Study is managed by this committee. Guy is a Professor Emeritus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a former US Navy officer.

Professor Michelle P. Hight, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Professor Michelle P. Hight is a member of the AABI Collaborative Research Committee and the Co-Principal Investigator of the Pilot Source Study 2018. She is a former US Air Force pilot and has flown three C-130 “Hercules” variants, deploying in support of combat operations in the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Horn of Africa regions. She is currently an assistant professor teaching Private and Commercial Ground Schools, Jet Transport Systems, and International Navigation courses in the Aeronautical Science Department of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.

Pilot Performance in Regional Airline Training and their Backgrounds: Pilot Source Study 2018

The purpose of the Pilot Source Study is to determine how new-hire pilots perform in regional airline training, based on their backgrounds and previous flying experience. The study was conducted in 2010 and 2012, before Public Law 111-216 became effective. The Pilot Source Study 2015, presented at WATS 2016, studied all regional airline pilots hired after August 1, 2013, the effective date of the First Officer Qualification (FOQ) Rule. The 2015 study concluded that pilots with the greatest success in training were recent graduates from college and had 1,500 or fewer total flight hours. There was still some concern that 2015 was too soon; perhaps the regional airlines were still adjusting their hiring and training to comply with the Law and the FOQ Rule. Were the results of the Pilot Source Study 2015 still valid in 2018, after Public Law 111-216 and the FOQ Rule have been in effect for more than 5 years? The Pilot Source Study 2018 was undertaken to answer this question.

In fall 2018, research teams collected 9,776 pilot records from five Regional Airlines that were most active in pilot hiring since 2015. These records contained pilot background data, collected from airline HR records, and pilot performance data, collected from airline training records. On December 3, 2018, results of the Pilot Source Study 2018 were made public through an FAA briefing in Washington, DC and publication on https://www.pilotsourcestudy.org/ 

The population in the 2018 study was comparable to the 2015 study, except there were considerably more prior-military pilots than in 2015. The 2018 study, consistent with previous studies, measured training success in terms of completions and number of extra training events. In 2018, six background characteristics met the criteria for greatest success – 90% Completions and less than one Extra Training Event.