Republican Sen. John Thune told Reuters on Tuesday there’s been a breakthrough that may allow the FAA Reauthorization Bill to be taken up by the Senate. The House passed its version of the bill in the summer but there’s been a logjam in the Senate over relaxing airline pilot training, specifically a proposal to increase the number of loggable simulator hours from 100 to 150. Thune wouldn’t comment in detail on the discussions but said there is an agreement that “deals with the pilot shortage, pilot supply issue and incorporates some of the best and greatest technology,” Reuters reported him as saying.
Aviation groups have been clamoring for the Senate to resolve their impasse, which has to do with the 1,500-hour experience rule for new ATPs. Reuters said “advanced simulator technology” is part of the agreement that may allow the bill to move forward in the Senate. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell said she still has to read the language of the deal but is optimistic. “There was a breakthrough from that hearing that we had before we left … I am hopeful that we will be able to do something,” she told Reuters.