Scott Foose, the Regional Airline Association’s (RAA) senior vice president of operations and safety, who chaired the Flight Officer Qualification (FOQ) Aviation Rulemaking Committee in the wake of the 2009 Colgan 3407 crash in Buffalo, told AIN the RAA agrees with almost everything in the current FOQ Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).
The mandate of the FOQ rulemaking committee was to discuss the flight experience and training requirements to fly as a first officer in a Part 121 air carrier operation. The NPRM requires an ATP certificate and 1,500 total hours for anyone in the cockpit, numbers some critics call irrelevant, noting that both pilots in the Colgan accident had already logged more than 1,500 hours each. The FOQ NPRM closed for comments on April 30.
“RAA supports continued improvement in training, but flight limits are not only arbitrary; they are counterproductive to finding highly skilled and knowledgeable pilots. Flight time does not necessarily translate into experience," Foose said.
"The FAA has, through the rulemaking process, the opportunity to amend the ATP standards to allow for academic credit in lieu of some flight time," he explained. "Unless the FAA's new rule recognizes the value of some of the new academic [flight training] programs, we’ll see a decrease in the pilot supply. It's not just a safety issue. It is also about diminishing service to communities that are receiving scheduled air service today."
Unless it is amended, the FOQ rule will take effect on August 1, 2013.