FAA Proposes New Airline Pilot Qualification Standards

 - February 27, 2012, 5:27 PM

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would require first officers to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, requiring 1,500 hours of pilot flight time except under limited circumstances. The proposed rule contains provisions included in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, signed into law by President Obama in August of that year.
Under the present FAA rules, first officers must only carry a commercial pilot certificate, which requires 250 hours of flight time. The proposal also would require first officers to earn an aircraft type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the airplanes they fly.
However, the rule would allow pilots who hold an aviation degree or with military flying experience to obtain a “restricted privileges” ATP certificate, under which a first officer could serve with fewer than 1,500 hours. Under the proposal, former military pilots with 750 hours of flight time could apply for an ATP certificate with restricted privileges, while graduates of a four-year baccalaureate aviation degree program could earn an ATP with 1,000 hours of flight time, but only if they also obtained a commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating from a pilot school affiliated with the university or college.
The new rule would also require “enhanced” training requirements for an ATP certificate, including 50 hours of multi-engine flight experience and completion of a new FAA-approved training program. Finally, under the proposal, all U.S. airline captains must have accumulated a minimum of 1,000 flight hours as a pilot in air carrier operations that require an ATP.
“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,” said FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta. “I believe this proposed rule will ensure our nation’s pilots have the necessary skills and experience.”
The proposal addresses recommendations from an Aviation Rulemaking Committee, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the FAA’s Call to Action to improve airline safety.