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FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2009, Continental Airlines Flight 3407 operated by Manassas, Va.-based Colgan Air, plane burns after it crashed into a house in Clarence Center, N.Y.

FAA Establishes Increased Co-Pilot Qualifications



Washington, DC (WBEN) Four and a half years after the crash of flight 3407, the FAA says it's increasing the qualification requirements for co-pilots who fly for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines.

The amount and type of flying experience first officers - also known as co-pilots - must have to qualify to fly for an airline will be significantly increased under new regulations announced Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The regulations require first officers to have at least 1,500 hours of flying experience. Airline captains are already required to have at least 1,500 hours. Previously, first officers were only required to have 250 hours of flight time.

The rule also requires first officers to have an aircraft-type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the type of airplane they fly.

"The rule gives first officers a stronger foundation of aeronautical knowledge and experience before they fly for an air carrier," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.

 

Citing the similarities between Flight 3407 and the Asiana Airlines Crash in San Francisco-- Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Brian Higgins of Buffalo  - called on the FAA to issue other long-delayed safety regulations on pilot training and flight simulator training that are also required under the safety law passed in the wake of the Clarence crash..

The rules would require, for example, that pilots undergo more extensive training on how to prevent stalls and recover if a stall occurs.

"While the (Asiana) investigation is still ongoing, one thing is clear, this crash and the other recent crashes like Flight 3407 demonstrate a troubling pattern in which pilots are mishandling airspeed, which can lead to fatal stalls," Schumer said.

The Asiana accident shares some similarities with the Buffalo crash. Like the Asiana pilot, the pilot of Colgan Air Flight 3407 also had relatively little experience in the type of plane he was flying.

The Colgan Air pilots also weren't paying close attention to airspeed, allowing the regional airliner to slow dangerously. That triggered a warning that the plane was losing lift and about to stall. The Asiana plane also slowed dangerously, triggering the same type of warning and raising questions about whether the pilots were monitoring the airspeed.

There was nothing mechanically wrong with the Colgan plane, and there was a brief period in which the pilots possibly could have saved the plane if they had acted correctly, NTSB determined later. Instead, the captain pushed the plane into a full stall, sending it plunging into a house below.

The regulations issued Wednesday are expected to have the greatest impact on safety at regional air carriers, where entry-level pilots are typically hired with only a few hundred hours. Pilots at major airlines typically start out with more experience and are often drawn from regional carriers.

"We want to get the best pilots possible into the cockpits, and then we want to set them up for success," said Scott Maurer, whose 30-year-old daughter, Lorin, was killed in the Buffalo crash.

The new regulations are required under a sweeping aviation safety law enacted in 2010 in response to the crash of Continental Flight 3407  that killed 50 people whenit went down on Long Street in Clarence Center the year prior.. The crash was blamed on pilot error.

The regulations are a victory for the family members of victims of that crash, who dedicated countless hours over the last four and a half years, first to lobby Congress for passage of the law and later to push the Obama administration to carry through with the regulations despite industry opposition.

The law required the FAA to implement a series of safety regulations. Changes to the first-officer qualifications, which had remained unaltered for many years, are considered among the most important. Two years ago, the FAA adopted regulations also required under the safety law that set new policies governing airline pilot work schedules aimed at preventing dangerous errors made by tired or overworked pilots.

The question of pilot experience is one of the issues raised in the investigation of the crash landing of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco on Saturday. The Asiana pilot flying the plane, Lee Gang-guk, had nearly 10,000 hours of flying experience, but was transitioning to a new type of plane. He had recently received his type rating and was about halfway through his post-rating, real-world training.

Two of the 307 people aboard the plane were killed and scores of others injured.

The regulations also have important implications for pilots at major carriers. For example, first officers now must have 1,000 hours of flying experience in the type of plane they fly before they can be promoted to captain, said Jeff Skiles, a US Airways pilot who lobbied to get the regulations and walked with Clarence family members on the crash's first anniversary.

The practical result is that first officers will probably have to spend a year to a year and a half flying a particular type of plane before they can qualify as a captain in that plane no matter how much previous experience they have flying other aircraft, he said.

Skiles was the co-pilot of the "Miracle on the Hudson" US Airways plane that lost thrust in both engines after colliding with a flock of geese. The skillful flying of Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and teamwork by Skiles have been credited with a near-perfect water landing on the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey that helped save the lives of all aboard the airliner.

He predicted the new requirements will save lives.


 


From the FAA::

Highlights of the rule include:

  • A requirement for a pilot to have a minimum of 1,000 flight hours as a co-pilot in air carrier operations prior to serving as a captain for a U.S. airline.
  • Enhanced training requirements for an ATP certificate, including 50 hours of multi-engine flight experience and completion of a new FAA-approved training program.
  • An allowance for pilots with fewer than 1,500 hours of flight time or who have not reached the minimum age of 23 to obtain a “restricted privileges” ATP certificate. A restricted privileges ATP certificate allows a pilot to serve as a co-pilot until he or she obtains the necessary 1,500 hours. The options are:

    —Military pilots with 750 hours total time as a pilot;
    —Graduates holding a Bachelor’s degree with an aviation major with 1,000 hours total time as a pilot;
    —Graduates holding an Associate’s degree with an aviation major with 1,250 hours;
    —Pilots who are at least 21 years old with 1,500 flight hours.   

    The FAA says the rule is consistent with the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010. The rule addresses recommendations from an Aviation Rulemaking Committee, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the FAA’s Call to Action to improve airline safety. 

     Pilot Qualifications Rule:

    Qualifications Prior Rules New Rules
    Airline Transport Pilot
    (ATP) certificate
    Multi-engine airplane
    • At least 23 years old;
    • Hold commercial pilot certificate with instrument rating;
    • Pass ATP knowledge and practical tests; and
    • 1,500 hours total time as pilot.
    • Meet all requirements in prior rules;
    • Have at least 50 hours in a multi-engine airplane; and
    • Successfully complete new ATP Certification Training Program prior to taking the ATP knowledge test (after July 31, 2014).
    Airline Transport Pilot
    certificate with restricted privileges  (multiengine airplane rating only)
    None
    • At least 21 years old;
    • Hold commercial pilot certificate with instrument rating;
    • Successfully complete new ATP Certification Training Program prior to taking the ATP knowledge test (after July 31, 2014);
    • Pass ATP knowledge and practical tests; and
    • At least 750 hours total time as (military pilots); or
    • At least 1,000 hours total time as pilot and a Bachelor’s degree with an aviation major; or
    • At least 1,250 hours total time as pilot and an Associate’s degree with an aviation major; or
    • 1,500 total time as a pilot.
    Serve as First Officer (Co-
    pilot) in Part 121 air carrier operations
    • Hold commercial pilot certificate with instrument rating; and at least a second class medical certificate.

    • ATP certificate with type rating for aircraft flown

    OR

    • ATP certificate with restricted privileges and  type rating for aircraft flown; and
    • At least a second class medical certificate.
    Serve as Captain (pilot in
    command) in Part 121 air carrier operations
    • ATP certificate with type rating for aircraft flown;
    • At least 1,500 hours total time as pilot; and
    • First class medical certificate.
    • Meet all requirements in prior rules;and
    • At least 1,000 flight hours in air carrier operations (as co-pilot in Part 121 operations, as Captain in fractional ownership operations, as Captain in Part 135 turbojet, commuter, or 10 or more passenger seat operations, or any combination thereof).

Filed Under :  
Topics : Disaster_Accident
Social :
Locations : Washington, Dc
People : Anthony FoxxMichael Huerta
07/10/2013 12:21PM
FAA Establishes Increased Co-Pilot Qualifications
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