Quality in the Cockpit
Recent crashes in San Francisco and Alaska have put aviation safety front and center in the minds of many Americans this week. Safety is my overriding priority as FAA Administrator, and while we await findings from the investigations in both recent crashes, I am pleased to announce a new rule that will help us maintain our safety record. Despite recent events, we are setting records in aviation safety. American air travelers expect only the most qualified pilots in the cockpit, and thanks to today's Pilot Qualification Rule, that’s exactly what they’ll get.
The final rule increases the qualification requirements for first officers – commonly called co-pilots -- who fly for U.S. airlines. The rule now mandates that co-pilots hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, requiring them to log 1,500 hours of flying time before becoming a copilot. Previously, they needed only a commercial pilot certificate, which requires 250 hours of flight time. The rule also requires co-pilots to have an aircraft type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the airplanes they fly.
After signing the Pilot Qualification Rule, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta shakes hands with John Duncan, Deputy Director of Flight Standards, as Barbara Adams with Flight Standards, looks on.
Our team worked hard to get this final rule out; we’re confident the team got it right. We considered recommendations from an Aviation Rulemaking Committee, the National Transportation Safety Board, and more than 550 comments to our February 2012 rulemaking notice. The rule aligns with provisions in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010.
We also continue to work with representatives of the Colgan flight 3407 families. Their dedication and advocacy for aviation safety, including this rulemaking are helping us make a safe system even safer.
The bottom line is that the new regulations give first officers a stronger foundation of aeronautical knowledge and experience before they fly for an air carrier. And that’s going to help us maintain the safety record we take pride in today.
Michael Huerta is the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.