New rules, regulations for co-pilots

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) — In the wake of the San Francisco crash and a crash in 2009 near Buffalo, New York, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced new regulations to make flights safer.

On Wednesday the federal agency announced plans to increase training for co-pilots.  The FAA said this rule stems in part from the tragic Colgan Air crash in 2009 that killed all 49 people on board, and one person on the ground.  Investigators said pilot fatigue, training and qualifications were all factors in that crash.

Co-pilots were previously required to have 250 hours of flight time, but they now must clock 1,500 hours–the same as pilots.

Former NTSB chair Mark Rosenker  said the rules will definitely lead to more experience in the air, but it could lead to other problems that would also have to be addressed.

“Well certainly we’re going to see significantly more experienced people sitting in the right seat,” Rosenker said.  “Now the real problem will be as a result of that will we find a shortage of pilots? We don’t know yet, it’s yet to be seen.”

Rosenker added there are 30,000 operations everyday in the United States without incident.  So at this time the NTSB is now looking to better understand exactly what led to the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco.

“The NTSB is going to figure this out. They may figure it out earlier than it could based on the typical accidents for which we don’t have all the evidence put right before us,” Rosenker said.  “But this will be a meticulous, methodical process. They will get it right and you can take their answers to the bank.”

Other parts of the rules include:

  • 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 U.S. airline.
  • Enhanced training requirements for an ATP certificate, including 50 hours of multi-engine flight experience and completion of a new FAA-approved training program.
  • An allowance for pilots with fewer than 1,500 hours of flight time or who have not reached the minimum age of 23 to obtain a “restricted privileges” ATP certificate. A restricted privileges ATP certificate allows a pilot to serve as a co-pilot until he or she obtains the necessary 1,500 hours.

The rule also has exceptions, to include one for military pilots who have flown at least 750 hours.

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