Co-pilots now need an additional 1,250 hours of training before flying commercial or cargo planes in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.
The FAA made the announcement as part of its investigation into the 2009 Colgan Air crash near Buffalo, NY, that killed 50 people. It also comes days after an Asiana Airlines jet crashed in San Francisco with relatively inexperienced pilots at the controls.
“Safety will be my overriding priority as secretary, so I am especially pleased to mark my first week by announcing a rule that will help us maintain our unparalleled safety record,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at FAA.gov.
“We owe it to the traveling public to have only the most qualified and best trained pilots.”
The FAA is now asking co-pilots (or first officers) to complete 1,500 hours of flying time as pilots before making the jump to larger airlines. They had previously required only 250 hours.
The rule also requires first officers to have an aircraft type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the airplanes they fly, the FAA said online.
Among the other announcements:
- 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 US airline.
- Enhanced training requirements for an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, including 50 hours of multi-engine flight experience and completion of a new FAA-approved training program.
- There are some exceptions for pilots with military training or college graduates with aviation degrees.
While now out of business, Colgan Air was a regional carrier that operated for Continental when Flight 3407 crashed into a Clarence, NY, home on Feb. 12, 2009.
As part of its investigation, the FAA found the aircraft’s pilots were inexperienced or poorly trained, Buffalo News reported.
The announcement also comes on the heels of the Asiana Airlines jet crash Saturday, which killed two passengers.
The pilot at the controls, Lee Gang-guk from South Korea, was just halfway through his training for the Boeing 777, The Associated Press reported.
He was making his first landing at San Francisco while his co-pilot, Lee Jeong-min, was acting as an instructor for the first time.
Two of 307 people aboard Flight 214 from Seoul died and many were injured as passengers scrambled to safety aboard emergency ramps while the aircraft burned on the runway.
In making preliminary announcements about the cause, investigators are trying to determine if automated cockpit controls were used properly to control airspeed.
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