Pilot Records Improvement Act

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Steps for Complying with PRIA

November 2, 2011

The Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) was enacted primarily as a result of certain airline accidents attributable to pilot error. The accident investigations found that although the pilot or pilots had a history of poor performance, their backgrounds were not investigated by the current employers. While many of the PRIA requirements apply only to commercial air carriers, there are implications for operators conducting flights under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). Under PRIA, a commercial air carrier cannot allow a pilot to conduct flights until it obtains and reviews the last 5 years of the pilot’s background and safety records.

Due to several high profile accidents involving Part 121 air carriers, various amendments to PRIA were signed into law during 2010. Specifically, the FAA is now required to create a pilot records database (PRD) that will contain a variety of records, including information submitted by employers. Once the PRD is in place, air carriers will use the database to perform background checks on pilots during the hiring process.

PRIA Requirements for Part 91 Operators

Since Part 91 operators do not meet the definition of an air carrier, they are not required to request PRIA records when hiring a pilot. However, certain records must be retained by Part 91 operators in case they receive a records request from an air carrier.

Within 30 days after receiving a PRIA request, the operator must provide records pertaining to:

  • training, qualification, proficiency, or professional competency of the pilot;
  • any disciplinary action that was not subsequently overturned;
  • any release from employment or resignation, termination, or disqualification with respect to employment; and
  • any FAA-mandated alcohol and drug testing program results.

In many cases, a Part 91 operator may not have any records on the pilot that would be pertinent to the PRIA request. In these situations, a simple letter to the requestor stating that no records are available satisfies the regulatory requirements.

PRIA Requirements for Part 135 Operators

Operators that fly either full-time or part-time under FAR Part 135 are required to gather specific past records of a new pilot within 90 days of hiring the person. The new Part 135 employer must request and receive records from anyone who has employed the applicant as a pilot during the past five years. This request must include a signed written consent of the pilot applicant. The consent immunizes the former employer from any Federal, state, or local lawsuits brought by the pilot, unless the information provided is intentionally false.

PRIA Resources

The FAA website provides access to all pertinent PRIA resources, including:

For additional questions contact the NBAA Operations Service Group at (202) 783-9451 or info@nbaa.org


August 15, 2011
FAA InFO: Pilot Records for the Pilot Records Database