More Training Required for Airline Pilots Before They Can Take to the Skies

Posted on February 27, 2012

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A recent U.S. government proposal would increase the required amount of experience and training for airline pilots to address issues that arose in a fatal crash three years ago.  Co-pilots would need close to the same qualifications as captains, with at least three times more flight hours than under current rules, the Federal Aviation Administration said today in a statement.  All pilots would have to undergo redesigned training exercises to prepare them for similar hazards that have led to past accidents , such as bad weather or high-altitude maneuvering.  According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, “this proposed rule reflects our commitment to the safety of the traveling public by making sure our pilots are the most qualified and best trained in the world.”

The proposed changes result from the Feb. 12, 2009, crash of a regional turboprop plane operated by Pinnacle Airlines Corp.’s Colgan unit that was blamed on pilot errors.  The crash, near Buffalo, New York, killed all 49 people aboard and one man on the ground.   In 2010, Congress ordered the FAA to update its requirements for airline pilots to better prepare them for flying in difficult conditions, such as icing or an unforeseen emergency.  The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates accidents, issued similar recommendations.

A co-pilot would have to have at least 250 hours of flight experience before flying for a U.S. airline under the proposed rules.  The proposal requires that co-pilots obtain the same license as captains, known as an Airline Transport Pilot certificate.  It requires at least 1,500 hours of experience and specific training and testing on the aircraft model they fly.

Additionally, Congress ordered the FAA to make several safety improvements, including a rule requiring passenger airline pilots to get more rest.

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