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Western New York delegation announces FAA release of new rules on pilot training

by jmaloni

Press release

Wed, Jul 10th 2013 11:55 pm

Members of the Western New York federal delegation called the release of new pilot training rules by the Federal Aviation Administration welcome news.

"This is an important step in the essential process of improving flight safety in the United States," said Congressman Brian Higgins. "We learned valuable lessons after the crash of Flight 3407, and rules like those released today will go a long way toward preventing future tragedies."

"We knew that after Flight 3407 we had to improve pilot training standards, and I applaud the FAA's implementation of this new policy," Rep. Louise Slaughter said. "The families of those who were lost in that crash have worked tirelessly to promote new standards to help prevent future tragedies, and I hope that today's news will bring them some level of comfort."

"I am pleased that the FAA has followed through on its commitment and finalized one of the key safety rules ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline. The families of flight 3407 and the entire congressional delegation have relentlessly pressed the FAA to finish this rule ahead of Aug. 1, and while there were delays in the process, that has paid off," said Sen. Chuck Schumer. "This new rule will help keep our skies safer, and we will all now focus our attention on getting the crew member training regulations finalized on time as well."

"Over the past four years, the families who lost loved ones on Flight 3407 have been a constant and powerful force in Congress, working to improve aviation safety standards so others are spared the same loss they have had to endure," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said. "Their tireless efforts are leading to some of the most significant safety improvements in years, including today's ruling to hold pilots to stronger standards by requiring more training and experience to keep our families safe. But we all know how much work is left to do. We must continue to implement all of the rules we wrote into the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act without further delay to reach one level of safety for all crews and passengers."

"Finally, the FAA has stopped dragging its feet and is moving forward in implementing the new safety regulations championed by Flight 3407 families and passed by Congress back in 2010," said Congressman Chris Collins. "The flying public owes the Flight 3407 families a large debt of gratitude for turning their tremendous loss into a crusade to make sure the flying public is as safe as possible."

"Final rules on pilot qualifications and crewmember training are long overdue, and today's news will go a long way in preventing future tragedies," Rep. Tom Reed said. "Deadly crashes, like the crash of Flight 3407, can be prevented and lives can be saved. Pressing the FAA to meet deadlines for proper pilot training is a fair, common sense requirement and I am pleased the FAA has heeded calls for reforms from the Western New York delegation."

Earlier this week members of Western New York's federal delegation sent aletter to the FAA administrator calling on him to move quickly to finalize aviation safety rules requiring new pilot training standards.

The recent crashes of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 while approaching San Francisco International Airport and an air taxi at the Soldotna Airport in Alaska prompted a renewed call for urgency on implementation of tougher standards.

The FAA finalized and signed a pilot qualification rule, which includes:

  • 1,500 hours needed for an airline transport pilot certification, exceptions for military pilots (750 hours), bachelor degrees in aviation (1,000 hours), 30-hr associate degree programs (1,250 hours).

  • Ages 21-23 can get restricted ATP if fly as second in command (co-pilot).

  • Requires "seasoning of pilots" meaning 1,000 hours as second in command (co-pilot) before qualified as pilot in command. ATP certification program was strengthened, requiring a seven-day course including 30 hours academic training and 10 hours simulation training.

Working closely with Flight 3407 families, the Western New York delegation pushed for, and in 2010 Congress approved, sweeping new aviation safety requirements for pilots and airlines, which included new transparencies for regional carriers, increased training for pilots and new policies to protect against pilot fatigue.

Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed on approach to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport on Feb. 12, 2009, killing all on board and one inside a home. Pilot training and fatigue were cited as factors in the crash.

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