Panel says less experience OK for airline pilots

Posted at 8:55 PM, Sep 14, 2017
and last updated 2019-01-22 16:33:37-05

An influential industry committee is recommending the government eliminate or scale back dozens of aviation safety rules, including one on airline pilot qualifications.

The committee voted Thursday to make the recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The committee said it was offering the recommendations in response to President Donald Trump's directives to cut government regulations. The committee was formed by the FAA and meets under its auspices.

The FAA adopted the rule on pilot qualification at Congress' direction after the last fatal crash of a U.S. passenger airliner in 2009, Flight 3407 in Clarence Center. It requires first officers to have at least 1,500 hours of flying experience, the same minimum requirement for captains.

The report recommends giving commercial airline pilot licenses to pilots with less than 1,500 hours if they receive acceptable academic training from their airline.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued statements following the report:

“Any roll back of the 1500 hour rule in future FAA legislation is a non-starter,” said Senator Schumer. “Today is yet another attempt by special interests to water down aviation safety standards that save lives. That is why I am going to keep fighting along with Senator Gillibrand and the entire Western New York delegation to ensure these standards stay in place.”

“I strongly oppose the airline industry’s latest attempt to weaken the 1500-hour rule that protects commercial pilots and keeps air passengers safe,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It’s no coincidence that we haven’t had a tragedy like Flight 3407 recently – because the rules are working and they have made air travel safer. I will fight with Senator Schumer to block this dangerous change to the rules, and I urge all of my colleagues from both parties to stand with the incredible Flight 3407 families, who have fought tirelessly to achieve one level of safety for everyone.”