The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday published a new rule designed to increase airline safety by requiring greater qualification standards for co-pilots.
The final rule mandates that first officers for U.S. airlines hold a commercial pilot certificate requiring them to log 1,500 hours of flying time before becoming a co-pilot. Previously, they needed only 250 hours of flight time in advance. The rule also requires co-pilots to have an aircraft-type rating, which involves additional training and testing specifics for the airplanes they fly.
The familiarity of the Asiana Airlines crew with the Boeing 777 that crashed in San Francisco earlier this month is one of the issues being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The new Pilot Qualification regulations
stem in part from the tragic crash of Colgan Air 3407 in February 2009, and address a congressional mandate in the 2010 Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act to ensure both pilots and co-pilots receive the ATP certification. The new rule is one of several rulemakings required by the Act, including the new flight duty and rest requirements for pilots that were finalized in December 2011, and new training requirements expected this fall for air carrier training programs to ensure pilots know how to react properly in difficult operating environments.
The new rule also requires pilots 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 U.S. airline. - Eric Kulisch