WNY Delegation Continues Aviation Safety Push With Focus on Pilot Qualifications

May 1, 2012 Updated May 1, 2012 at 11:45 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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WNY Delegation Continues Aviation Safety Push With Focus on Pilot Qualifications

May 1, 2012 Updated May 1, 2012 at 11:45 AM EDT

(WKBW release) With new pilot fatigue rules in place, Western New York Members of the House of Representatives are now turning their attention to pilot qualifications and training as they continue the fight for one level of aviation safety. 

According to a news release issued Tuesday:

In a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administration Acting Administrator Michael Huerta, Representatives Brian Higgins, Kathy Hochul, Louise Slaughter and Tom Reed called for implementation of the provision requiring pilots to have a minimum of 1,500 flight training hours to receive an airline transport pilot (ATP) certification.

Under previous law, pilots were only required to log 250 flight hours before working for a commercial airline.  Section 217 of the FAA Reauthorization legislation, approved by Congress and signed into law in 2010, would expand the requirement to 1,500 hours.  The comment period on new pilot certification requirements for air carrier operators expires today, April 30th.

“History has shown the pilots with significant flight time under their belt in diverse conditions are most prepared to handle the challenges that arise in-flight,” said Congressman Brian Higgins.  “There is no substitute for hands-on experience and there’s no good reason to require any less than this standard.”  

“The American people deserve to have only the most qualified and most experienced pilots flying their planes,” said Congresswoman Hochul.  “Never again can there be an avoidable tragedy on the scale of the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407, which took place in the heart of my district, as a result of inexperienced pilots.”

“Increased flight training for regional pilots is a cornerstone of the legislation we passed in response to the tragic crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 and must be preserved,” said Congresswoman Slaughter. “We won't improve pilot training unless we require everyone in the cockpit to be adequately prepared to handle an emergency.”

"We need to learn and do whatever we can to prevent another tragedy like this,” added Congressman Reed.  “The expanded training requirement is an obvious proactive step we need to take without delay."