The FAA has issued a final rule that raises minimum flight hours required by first officers for U.S. air carriers flying under Part 121 regulations to 1,500, from the current 250.
The new rules stem from a Congressional mandate following the 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407. However, both pilots in that crash had logged more time than the new minimum; the captain had flown 3,379 hours and the first officer 2,244 hours at the time of the accident.
The rule will also require first officers to hold an ATP certificate and a type rating in the aircraft being flown. Yesterday, the architects of the Congressional mandate, Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and congressman Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), wrote a letter to the FAA asking that a new mandate for additional stall and stall recovery training be implemented immediately and applied to non-U.S. pilots through bilateral agreements. Referring to the Asiana 214 Boeing 777 crash on July 6, Schumer and Higgins wrote: “While the investigation is still ongoing, one thing is clear–this crash and the other recent crashes like Flight 3407 demonstrate a troubling pattern in which pilots are mishandling airspeed, which can lead to fatal stalls.”