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Thread: Congress OKs overhaul of airline pilot rules

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ari707's Avatar
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    Congress OKs overhaul of airline pilot rules

    WASHINGTON Congress on Friday approved far-reaching aviation safety legislation developed in response to a deadly commuter airline crash in western New York last year.

    The safety measures apply to all airlines and are the first comprehensive attempt in decades to revise rules governing pilots. They would force airlines to hire more experienced pilots, investigate pilots' previous employment more thoroughly and train them better. The legislation also requires a major overhaul of rules governing pilot work schedules to prevent fatigue.

    The Senate approved the measure without debate, following similar action by the House late Thursday night. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill before Sunday.

    The impetus for the safety measures was the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 near Buffalo-Niagara International Airport on Feb. 12, 2009. All 49 people aboard and one man in a house were killed. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation faulted actions by the flight's pilots and deficiencies in pilot hiring and training by Colgan Air, the regional carrier that operated the flight for Continental Airlines.

    All of the past six fatal airline accidents in the U.S. involved regional carriers. Pilot performance was a contributing factor in four of those cases.

    Major airlines are increasingly outsourcing short-haul flights to regional carriers, which now account for more than half of all domestic flights.

    Members of Congress praised the friends and family members of the victims of Flight 3407, who have lobbied relentlessly over the past 17 months for the safety measures.

    ."This is a textbook example of a small group of people who, with only right on their side, were able to overcome large and powerful special interests," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement.

    The bill, said Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, will make "an extraordinary difference to aviation safety."
    Among other things, the bill would:

    Require the FAA to propose new regulations limiting pilots' work schedules to reflect modern research on sleep and fatigue. The NTSB has been urging the FAA for two decades to update the rules. The agency is already working on new rules, but progress has been slow.

    Boost the minimum flight experience required to be a first officer from 250 hours to 1,500 hours the same level as captains. That could force regional airlines to hire more experienced pilots and indirectly lead to higher salaries. Most first officers at major carriers already exceed that threshold.

    Require the FAA to strengthen regulations governing pilot training programs at airlines. The NTSB has urged airlines to provide remedial training for pilots who make errors or have difficulty on tests of their flying.
    Require the FAA to strengthen regulations governing pilot training programs at airlines. The NTSB has urged airlines to provide remedial training for pilots who make errors or have difficulty on tests of their flying.

    Give the FAA three years to impose new regulations requiring airlines to establish pilot mentoring programs and professional development committees, as well as modify existing training programs to include leadership and command training.

    Require websites that sell airline tickets to state on their first page the name of the carrier operating each segment of the flight. Regional carriers often fly under names that sound similar to their major airline partners.

    The bill also extends authority for Federal Aviation Administration programs through the end of the budget year on Sept. 30. Without the extension, FAA programs other than air traffic control would shutdown on Sunday.

    The safety provisions had previously been part of a larger bill authorizing FAA programs for the next three years, including the agency's $40 billion effort to modernize the nation's air traffic control system. Progress on that bill stalled last week over issues unrelated to safety, making an extension bill necessary.

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    Moderator USAF Pilot 07's Avatar
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    Re: Congress OKs overhaul of airline pilot rules

    While I'm not much involved in civilian flying or the road to becoming an airline pilot, from what I hear from people in the industry is that this is a good thing which will ultimately raise pilot salaries and increase safety by closing down a lot of these pilot mills or "pay to be a pilot" programs. While initially it may take longer and more to become a commercial pilot at an airline, hopefully the rewards and end state will make it worth it and will really force someone to dedicate their career to aviation.

    Would be interesting to hear the thoughts of those who are in the process of getting hours or who are working towards an airline job though...

  3. #3

    Re: Congress OKs overhaul of airline pilot rules

    What exactly counts as a "flight hour". According to the article, you will now need 1500 hours to be a 1st officer. So my confusion is, if you are not the captain, or first officer, and most commercial flights have 2 people in the cockpit, how do you get those hours?

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    Moderator USAF Pilot 07's Avatar
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    Re: Congress OKs overhaul of airline pilot rules

    Quote Originally Posted by puckstopper55
    What exactly counts as a "flight hour". According to the article, you will now need 1500 hours to be a 1st officer. So my confusion is, if you are not the captain, or first officer, and most commercial flights have 2 people in the cockpit, how do you get those hours?
    The bill requires all commercial airline pilots hold an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot certificate) which is where the 1500 hours comes into play (this is the amount of hours the FAA currently requires before be able to apply and qualify for an ATP).

    An hour (as I understand it in the civilian world) is defined as the combination of both taxi and actual flight time. In the military, a flight hour is logged only from wheels up to landing, which is why this bill I believe has a stipulation for military guys to convert their total flight hours to a civilian equivalency which would include taxi time.

    Most people build hours prior to getting an airline job though. Obviously, paying for 1500 flight hours gets expensive real quick and is not feasible for most. That's why, for example, most pilots build hours after getting all their FAA certifications by instructing new students, who pay both the instructor and aircraft rental/fuel, in more simple single engine/twin engine aircraft. I think a part of this bill also involves a certain amount of multi-engine time - which will probably be the tougher part to log for most. I don't think simulator hours count towards the 1500 flight hours either though.

    Also, from my understanding, not included in this bill are carriers who operate under different rules, such as cargo/corporate air companies. So, one could also build the required number of hours by working for a smaller freight company or getting a corporate gig on a business jet.

    Or, like many current airline pilots, someone can go the route I went/am going which is through military flight training. Training is intense and very structured, but is all paid for and you actually get paid to fly, but you also owe Uncle Sam 10 years after flight school in which time you will build hours, but also be at the Air Force or Navy's beck-and-call and will have other managerial type jobs other than just flying.

    Pros and cons no matter which way you slice it. From what it sounds like what this bill is looking to prevent are pilot mills, who get people to pay a lot of money for all their ratings in a short amount of time and then have those people going out and getting hired on by a regional carrier with only 300 or 400 hours of primarily single engine prop time, flying paying passengers around in more complex and much higher performance multi-engine aircraft.

    There's a lot of debate on both sides as to whether this bill is good or not and whether it will change the industry at all. Many think it will ultimately help pilot salaries and quality of life whereas some say it won't increase safety at all and will just make getting an airline job more expensive and lengthy. Also, there seem to be several loopholes from what I've heard, so that may come into play as well.

  5. #5
    so an hour in a plane, is an hour in a plane? Single engine, double, single jet, ect are all looked at as the same? What about different layouts and instruments for different plane types?

  6. #6
    Senior Member SengaB's Avatar
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    These new regulations will prove to be catastrophic to the careers for pilots like myself tying to find a way to get their food in the door. I am at the crux of this and the worst place to be at this time. Aviation is STILL in a deep recession and now this? This is very demoralizing to say the least.

    USAF Pilot 07, I am slightly encuraged by reading the part of it not effecting Cargo and other operations. Lots of those Cargo Job are part 135 anway and you need 1200h for them. One will have to find a find company that will give opportunities to pilots like myself to get up to 1500h.

    Whats the max age requirement for joining the Air Force USAF pilot 07? I have a feeling the USAF will be having A LOT more pilots trying to join their ranks now.

    Senga
    Last edited by SengaB; 08-03-2010 at 12:41 PM.

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