Commercial Pilot Experience
Confrontation About Training & Qualifications
ANDY PASZTOR of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL has exceptional sources and can announce significant findings like:
“U.S. airlines would be able to hire new pilots with far less cockpit experience than currently required under a proposal aimed at addressing a staffing shortage, a move likely to rekindle a debate over aviation safety.
Certain military pilots with as little as 500 hours of flying experience would be allowed to become commercial co-pilots, according to people familiar with an advisory panel’s recommendations, compared with the mandatory at least 750 hours required today. That is already down sharply from the minimum of 1,500 hours set for typical nonmilitary pilots in 2013…
The committee, which includes representatives of pilots, airlines and passengers, didn’t recommend any changes for requirements to fly as a captain. Captains need 1,500 hours among other requirements, but airlines usually require more flight time for them than federal minimums…
The panel’s report follows earlier safety enhancements imposed by Congress and the FAA in the wake of the high-profile crash of a Colgan Air turboprop in 2009 near Buffalo, N.Y…
Confronting pressure from lawmakers, outside safety critics and families of the more than four dozen victims who died in the crash, FAA officials in 2013 announced regulations raising experience and training requirements. Instead of what had been the mandatory minimum of 250 hours flight time for first officers, the agency adopted a sliding scale from 750 to 1,500 hours, depending on military and educational background.”
Mr. Pasztor’s report deftly hints at a likely confrontation between the FAA’s committee, composed of professionals most familiar with aviation safety and of members of the public with the Families of Continental Flight 3407.
Loss of a loved one, particularly in an airline crash, has to rank as one of life’s greatest traumas. The families of such events likely feel helpless and seek means to assuage their grief. The NTSB’s Transportation Disaster Assistance Division was established to help them in these extraordinarily difficult times. Their grief counseling team helps the families and friends. This group has worked hard to create a memorial for their loved ones, but they seemed more committed to implement rules designed to avoid the reoccurrence of Colgan 3407.
Since the WSJ did not include any of the technical safety analyses, presumably Safety Risk Assessments, it is difficult to forecast the level of the committee’s proof.
If the basis is primarily qualitative reviews, then the political process will likely block any change to the commercial pilots experience criteria. If the panel’s recommendations are supported by strong quantitative correlation between fewer pilot hours and a more-than-acceptable safety performance of statistical reliability, then the regional airlines may have a new source for their co-pilots.
Safety standards should be directly linked to substantive proof; without such the debate will be mired in emotional diatribes.