A WFAA-TV investigation found more than 80 Texas-based airline pilots still licensed to fly passengers despite convictions including driving while intoxicated, sexual assault of a child and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Federal regulators acknowledge they do not conduct routine criminal background checks of commercial airline pilots once licensed. That’s despite federal requirements to ensure airline pilots retain “good moral character.”
Federal Aviation Administration officials explained that they lack the resources to annually check the backgrounds of the nation’s 154,000 commercial airlines pilots. Instead, the FAA relies on pilots to self-report convictions on periodic medical disclosures.
WFAA-TV’s investigative unit, however, did conduct criminal background checks of airline pilots in Texas, Florida and Oklahoma.
In Texas alone, WFAA found pilots who have had criminal convictions the past 10 years that could have allowed the FAA to sanction or revoke the pilots’ licenses.