A number of western New York Congressional legislators are worried the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will soften the FAR Part 121 pilot experience requirements that evolved from the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 while on approach to Buffalo, N.Y., in February 2009.
In a joint letter to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta, Brian Higgins (D-NY), Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Tom Reed (R-NY) and Kathleen Hochul (D-NY) acknowledged the “significant gap in the hiring standards for first officers between the major and regional carriers. We have seen in the past that when flight crews do not receive adequate training, the propensity for a fatal error to occur increases. Fulfilling the intent of the 1,500-flight hour requirement must be taken very seriously.”
The legislators emphasized that this requirement should be attained through nothing short of actual flying experience. Provisions in the new legislation potentially offer military and some college flight school graduates an opportunity to earn a restricted ATP certificate [with reduced flight time] to meet the new requirements.
“Other than the specialized military training, we express concern about any proposal to abridge the 1,500-hour requirement,” they wrote. “Such [other] alternatives should be avoided to preserve the safety standards intended by the law. We ask that as you promulgate these regulations, you use your statutory discretion to hold to the standard steadfastly.”
Comments to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding Part 121 pilot experience closed on April 30.