A boost for pilot experience?
U.S. pilots would need at least 1,500 hours of flight experience to get a job in an airline cockpit, six times the current minimum requirement, under a House-Senate agreement disclosed Tuesday by a passenger advocacy group.
The agreement, part of broader aviation legislation being negotiated in Congress, was outlined by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) to relatives of victims in a fatal crash near Buffalo last year, according to Scott Maurer, whose daughter was killed in the accident, and who attended the meeting in Washington.
Boosting the minimum required pilot experience from 250 hours has been a top goal of friends and relatives of 50 people who died in the Feb. 12, 2009, crash of a plane belonging to Pinnacle Airlines Corp.'s Colgan unit.
Rockefeller appreciates the families' "deep commitment to a safer transportation system," spokeswoman Jena Longo said in a statement. The senator believes legislation funding the Federal Aviation Administration, which includes the requirement, "is ready and he is hopeful that the bill will be considered this week," she said. Rockefeller heads the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
The National Transportation Safety Board this year said Colgan Capt. Marvin Renslow caused the crash by incorrectly responding to a stall warning in the cockpit. Renslow died along with all passengers, crew and one person on the ground, after the flight for Continental Airlines departed from Newark's Liberty airport.
A 1,500-hour minimum exceeds the 800 hours approved by the Senate in March as part of $34.6 billion legislation to fund the Federal Aviation Administration. The House in October 2009 approved a 1,500-hour minimum in its version of the legislation.
The Air Transport Association, the Washington trade group for major U.S. carriers, told House lawmakers in a letter before their vote that carriers were concerned the requirement would result in "unnecessary and artificial barriers" for qualified pilots and reduce the applicant pool for carriers.
-- Bloomberg News
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