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FAA Expected To Boost Co-Pilot Training Requirements

Quantity v Quality: Number Of Hours Still About Half What Congress Had Sought

The FAA is reportedly on the verge of proposing that the minimum number of hours required to be an airline First officer be boosted to 700 hours, which is substantially higher than the 250 hours under current requirements but less than half the 1,500 hours proposed by Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the NPRM could be published in the Federal Register as early as next month, and would represent the largest shift in training requirements for commercial airline pilots in decades. It comes against a backdrop of an already-declining pool of qualified pilots due to retirements and a reduction in the hiring of former military pilots.

The call for increase co-pilot training came in the wake of the 2009 Colgan Air accident in which 50 people were fatally injured.

The paper indicates that the new requirements were alluded to in a speech by FAA administrator Randy Babbitt on Wednesday, but he did not offer details or a timeline. Part of the proposal is to offer extra flight-time credits to civilians who graduate from four-year academic institutions or other advance training programs. Credits and special exemptions could be made available to military pilots wishing to pursue an airline career.

The proposal for increased flight time for co-pilots is one of four safety initiatives which could be presented by the FAA yet this year, all stemming from the 2009 Colgan Air accident.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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