A panel rec­om­mends the roll­back of dozens of fed­eral rules on avi­a­tion safety.

Houston Chronicle - - BUSINESS - By Joan Lowy

WASH­ING­TON — An in­flu­en­tial in­dus­try com­mit­tee rec­om­mended Thurs­day that the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion elim­i­nate or scale back dozens of safety rules, in­clud­ing one on air­line pi­lot qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

The FAA’s Avi­a­tion Rule­mak­ing Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee said the rec­om­men­da­tions are a re­sponse to an ef­fort by the agency to com­ply with President Don­ald Trump’s di­rec­tives to cut reg­u­la­tions.

Pi­lots unions and safety groups op­pose the rec­om­men­da­tion on pi­lot qual­i­fi­ca­tions, say­ing it would un­der­mine safety. Re­gional air­lines have been try­ing to roll back the pi­lot qual­i­fi­ca­tions rule since it was adopted by the FAA in re­sponse to a sweep­ing 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 Con­ti­nen­tal Con­nec­tion Flight 3407 in 2009 near Buf­falo, N.Y., that some re­gional air­lines were hir­ing first of­fi­cers with far less ex­pe­ri­ence than pi­lots at ma­jor air­lines. All 49 on board and a man on the ground were killed af­ter the cap­tain re­sponded in­cor­rectly to safety sys­tems, caus­ing the plane to stall.

Af­ter the crash, law­mak­ers in­creased the min­i­mum num­ber of flight hours first of­fi­cers must have in or­der to ob­tain a li­cense to fly com­mer­cial pas­sen­ger air­lin­ers to 1,500 hours, the same as cap­tains, lead­ing to more ex­pe­ri­enced first of­fi­cers.

Be­fore that, air­lines were al­lowed to hire first of­fi­cers with as few as 250 hours of fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Some air­lines would move first of­fi­cers into a cap­tain’s seat as soon as they had the min­i­mum 1,500 hours of fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The re­port rec­om­mends per­mit­ting pi­lots with less than 1,500 hours to qual­ify for an “air trans­port” li­cense if they re­ceive aca­demic train­ing from their air­line.

Air­lines say the cur­rent rule is acer­bat­ing a pi­lot short­age. It can cost prospec­tive pi­lots as much as they might pay for a fouryear col­lege ed­u­ca­tion to ac­quire the greater fly­ing hours they now need to qual­ify for an air trans­port li­cense. Faye Malarkey Black, president of the re­gional air­line as­so­ci­a­tion, said the pro­posed changes would in­cor­po­rate more mean­ing­ful ed­u­ca­tion into pi­lot train­ing than mere flight hours.

Air­line pi­lot unions and safety ad­vo­cates say the prob­lem is re­gional air­lines don’t pay high enough en­try-level salaries to at­tract as many pi­lots as they need.

A group rep­re­sent­ing the fam­i­lies of vic­tims of the Col­gan crash said re­gional air­lines have taken their case to the ad­vi­sory panel “to by­pass the leg­isla­tive process where they have run into con­sid­er­able re­sis­tance.”

David Duprey / As­so­ci­ated Press file

De­bris marks the crash site in 2009 of Col­gan Con­ti­nen­tal Con­nec­tion Flight 3407 near Buf­falo, N.Y.. All 49 peo­ple on board and a man on the ground were killed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.