The FAA has issued a final rule that raises to 1,500 the minimum flight hours required by first officers for U.S. air carriers flying under Part 121 regulations, up from the current 250 hours. The new rules stem from a Congressional mandate following the 2009 crash of Colgan Air 3407, a Bombardier Q400, in Buffalo, NY. The rule also requires that first officers hold an ATP certificate and a type rating in the aircraft being flown.
As of August 1, first officers for U.S. Part 121 air carriers will need to have logged at least 1,500 hours as well as meeting other requirements. The new regulations, however, do not address the quality of the logged time, and cargo operator Ameriflight has petitioned the FAA to allow pilots to log more time when flying as second-in-command (SIC) in Part 135 cargo operations where just one pilot is required. The petition was filed in February but just recently went live for public comment.
The longer that the House and Senate take to vote on FAA reauthorization legislation, the more likely that new proposals will be added that will further delay any vote.
Hawker Beechcraft King Air C90A, Pagosa Springs, Colo., Oct. 4, 2007–The NTSB blamed the pilot for failing to maintain clearance from mountainous terrain for the Eagle Air Med King Air crash that killed all three on board. Contributing factors were inadequate preflight planning, improper in-flight planning and decision-making, the dark night and the controller’s failure to issue a safety alert to the pilot.
Piper PA-31T and Cessna 172, Denver, Colo., Jan. 24, 2003–At about 5 p.m. CST, Cessna 172P N52241 departed from Denver Centennial Airport (APA) en route to Cheyenne, Wyo. N52241 was rented from Key Lime Flight based at Centennial Airport. About 10 minutes later Piper Cheyenne N360LL departed Jefferson County Airport (BJC) in the Denver area en route to APA.
Beech C99, Butte, Mont., March 18, 2006–The NTSB attributed the Ameriflight cargo airplane’s crash into mountains to the copilot’s failure to follow the published instrument approach procedure and the captain/PIC’s inadequate supervision. Factors in the accident were snow and mountain obscuration. In addition, IMC in the area included icing conditions and poor visibility.
SWEARINGEN MERLIN IIIB, SPOKANE VALLEY, WASH, NOV. 20, 2003–Swearingen Merlin IIIB N439AF, owned by Ameriflight of Burbank, Calif., was destroyed when it crashed into trees approximately one mile short of the runway on an ILS approach to Spokane Valley, Wash. in IMC conditions. The accident occurred at approximately 4:06 p.m. The flight was operated as Ameriflight AMF1996 and the pilot, who was alone, was killed.
The NTSB concluded that the pilot’s “inadvertent flight” into severe icing and his “inadequate planning” for the forecast weather was the probable cause of the Jan. 11, 2005 accident involving a Mountain Flight Service air ambulance King Air E90. The two pilots and a medic were killed when the turboprop twin crashed into mountainous terrain while on approach to Rawlins Municipal Airport, Wyo.
Beech 99, Butte, Mont., March 18, 2006–The ATP pilot and commercial copilot were killed when the Ameriflight Beech 99 cargo flight crashed into trees in mountainous terrain approximately seven nm southwest of Butte.