FAA Proposes To Raise Airline Pilot Qualification Standards


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FAA Proposes To Raise Airline Pilot Qualification Standards

By Mike Mitchell

February 28, 2012 - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday proposed to substantially raise the qualification requirements for first officers who fly for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines.  

Consistent with a mandate in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, the proposed rule would require first officers also known as co-pilots to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, requiring 1,500 hours of pilot flight time.  

Currently, first officers are required to have only a commercial pilot certificate, which requires 250 hours of flight time. The proposal also would require first officers to have an aircraft type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the airplanes they fly. 

?Safety in all modes of transportation is our number-one priority,? said Secretary 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.?

?Our pilots need to have the right training and the right qualifications so they can be prepared to handle any situation they encounter in the cockpit,? said FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta. ?I believe this proposed rule will ensure our nation?s pilots have the necessary skills and experience.? 

Other highlights of the proposed rule include: 

A requirement for a pilot to have a minimum of 1,000 flight hours as a pilot in air carrier operations that require an ATP 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, but who have an aviation degree or military pilot experience, to obtain a ?restricted privileges? ATP certificate.  

These pilots could serve only as a first officer, not as a captain. Former military pilots with 750 hours of flight time would be able to apply for an ATP certificate with restricted privileges. Graduates of a four-year baccalaureate aviation degree program would be able to obtain an ATP with 1,000 hours of flight time, only if they also obtained a commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating from a pilot school affiliated with the university or college. 


The proposal addresses recommendations from an Aviation Rulemaking Committee, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the FAA?s Call to Action to improve airline safety. 

Coalition of Airline Pilots Association (CAPA) applauds the FAA final rule on the first officer qualification arc as a result of the airline safety act.  

?The FAA issued the long awaited final rule on the First Officer Qualification ARC convened nearly 2 years ago as a result of the Airline Safety Act of 2010 and in the wake of the Continental Express Flight 3407 tragedy in Buffalo NY just over three years ago. 

The five member associations of CAPA are: Allied Pilots Association (American Airlines), Independent Pilots Association (UPS), Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (Southwest Airlines), Teamsters Local 1224, and US Airline Pilots Association (US Airways). 

CAPA is pleased that the FAA has issued now new, and stronger qualifications for individuals serving as First Officers in our nations Regional Airline Fleet. These new rules dramatically increase the minimum flight time and academic qualifications required to possess the new First Officer Airline Transport Rating for commercial airline pilots in America. 

"CAPA was the first to champion these new stronger standards and is proud to have led the effort both in congress and in the regulatory process to make these much needed safety improvements to our profession and the nations airline system overall." states Captain Lee Collins, Executive Vice President, CAPA

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