Because of the political pressure to act in the wake of the San Francisco jet crash, federal authorities have announced they will enact new aviation safety rules, including a requirement for increased training of U.S. pilots. While the new rules would apply only to pilots on U.S. passenger and cargo airlines, a group of lawmakers sought to use the recent crash-landing of the South Korean jetliner to call attention to aviation safety and put pressure on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to complete work on rules that grew out of a 2009 plane crash near Buffalo, N.Y.
The new rule requires first officers who fly U.S. passenger and cargo planes to have 1,500 hours of flight time — the same as captains — rather than 250 hours. First officers are required to undergo additional training specific to the airplanes they fly. A pilot also needs a minimum of 1,000 flight hours as a co-pilot in air carrier operations prior to serving as a captain for a U.S. airline. New training requirements also are expected to be issued this fall to “ensure pilots know how to react properly in difficult operating environments,’’ according to the FAA announcement. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said: “The rule gives first officers a stronger foundation of aeronautical knowledge and experience before they fly for an air carrier.”
The announcement came just hours before a group of New York lawmakers planned a news conference to press the FAA to complete work on the new rules. The FAA earlier this year drew criticism from its inspector general for being 18 months behind schedule for completing work on an “important safety initiative that will require pilot training programs to incorporate flight simulators and enhance pilots’ abilities to work together during emergencies, as well as how to recognize and recover from stalls.’’ Congress in 2010 passed legislation requiring increased training and experience for pilots after lobbying by the families of the victims of the 2009 Colgan Air crash, which killed 50 people near Buffalo. Pilot training and fatigue were cited as factors in the crash. In December 2011, the FAA announced new rules designed to reduce fatigue, including requiring pilots to have at least a 10-hour rest period before flights.
While the cause of the crash at San Francisco International Airport is under investigation, attention has focused on the pilots, who were flying too low and slow during their final approach. It also was the pilot’s first landing in San Francisco in a Boeing 777. Three people were killed and 181 were injured in the crash-landing.
Source: Los Angeles Times
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