WASHINGTON (AP) — An influential industry panel plans to vote Thursday on recommendations that the Federal Aviation Administration eliminate or scale back dozens of safety rules, including one on airline pilot qualifications.
The recommendations are contained in a report to the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee in response to President Donald Trump’s directives to cut government regulations.
Regional airlines have been fighting the pilot qualifications rule since it was adopted by the FAA in response to a sweeping aviation safety law passed by Congress after the last fatal crash of a U.S. passenger airliner.
Lawmakers said at the time that they were concerned about reports in the wake of the crash of Colgan Flight 3407 in February 2009 near Buffalo, New York, that some rapidly growing regional airlines were hiring first officers with far less experience than pilots at major airlines. All 49 people on board and a man on the ground were killed after the captain responded incorrectly to safety systems, causing the plane to stall.
Before that crash, airlines were allowed to hire first officers with as few as 250 hours of flying experience. Airlines would then move first officers into a captain’s seat as soon as they had the minimum 1,500 hours of flying experience.
After the crash, the requirements were changed so that a minimum of 1,500 hours were needed for first officers as well as for captains, leading to more experienced first officers.
The report recommends permitting pilots with less than 1,500 hours to qualify for an “air…
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