The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday proposed to substantially raise the qualification requirements for co-pilots who fly for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines.
The draft rule is part of a broader notice of the agency’s intent to beef up pilot training standards and improve aviation safety.
The notice of proposed rulemaking, to be officially published on tomorrow’s Federal Register, would require first officers – also known as co-pilots – to have 1,500 hours of pilot flight time under their belt. Currently, first officers are required to only have a commercial pilot certificate, which requires 250 hours of flight time. The proposal also would require first officers to be rated, through additional training and testing, for the specific type of planes they fly.
The changes to the training requirements were mandated by Congress in 2010 in response to recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board and other aviation experts.
“Our pilots need to have the right training and the right qualifications so they can be prepared to handle any situation they encounter in the cockpit,” FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta, said in a statement. “I believe this proposed rule will ensure our nation’s pilots have the necessary skills and experience.”
The proposed rule would also:
- Require a pilot to have a minimum of 1,000 flight hours as a pilot in commercial air carrier operations prior to serving as a captain for a U.S. airline.
- Enhance training requirements for an ATP certificate, including 50 hours of multi-engine flight experience and completion of a new FAA-approved training program.
- Allow pilots with fewer than 1,500 hours of flight time, but who have an aviation degree or military pilot experience, to obtain a “restricted privileges” Air Transport Pilot’s certificate. These pilots could serve only as a first officer, not as a captain. Former military pilots with 750 hours of flight time would be able to apply for an ATP certificate with restricted privileges. Graduates of a four-year baccalaureate aviation degree program would be able to obtain an ATP with 1,000 hours of flight time, only if they also obtained a commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating from a pilot school affiliated with the university or college.