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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

By Michael Bolden  | July 22, 2010; 10:51 AM ET
Categories:  Airlines, Transportation Politics  
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So you're basically limiting commercial pilots to former military? It would be cost prohibitive to get that much training in the private sector. Are they establishing a higher education fund for flight schools to counter the drop in pilots created?

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | July 22, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Neither this post nor the articles you link to says how many hours of experience the departed pilot had. That makes it look like Congress is again enacting artificial barriers without a rationale. Why not just ban airplanes? If it saves just one life, isn't it worth it?

Posted by: jiji1 | July 22, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

The command pilot had 4000 hours. The accident was a direct result of him not paying attention to what he was doing not the hours of the copilot. Both of them failed to keep a sterile cockpit and were chatting away at a time they should have been doing their jobs.

Posted by: Pilot1 | July 22, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Awesome, another Congressional "fix" that doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with the problem that inspired it.

Posted by: jiji1 | July 22, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

This really doesn't belong on the dr gridlock blog at all.

Posted by: aaronw1 | July 22, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I can't understand how someone (other than the individual described below) would make a comment against this. Higher qualified pilots behind the locked door. No more 90 day wonder - zero to hero pilots learning on the job with paying passengers in the back. I'm all for saving a buck but do you really want the lowest bidder, lowest experience, lowest performance record pilot the airlines can find up behind the locked door?

That is exactly where we found the industry. 3407 revealed significant short comings in the pilot profession far beyond the issues surrounding the qualifications of Marvin Renslow; work rules, selection criteria, the ability to attract and retain capable individuals, etc. The families of the dead have taken on the cause, found significant problem areas, and did the heavy lifting.

The only one who would sound off against this is a low time wannabe pilot that is ticked off it will take additional effort to reach the airlines.

Sorry, the bar has been raised. As it should be. If you are not up to the task find another line of work.

Posted by: seaav8tor | July 23, 2010 1:53 AM | Report abuse

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