US airlines oppose rise in training hours for co-pilots

by Alfie FEATHERSTONE on October 15, 2010

A key safety measure, which was recently passed the United States Congress, has been met with opposition from airline officials that believe the move could lead to an increase in pilots’ salaries.

The measure has been passed in the wake of a deadly airline crash last year that has prompted Congress to increase the number of training hours basic regional pilots must meet. The new regulation was agreed upon in Congress, but is now being opposed by the Federal Aviation Administration advisory as it may cost the already struggling industry too much money.

The advisory - which is comprised of airline and companies that regularly employ pilots - is attempting to reduce the requirement that airline co-pilots have the same amount of training experience as captains; a minimum of 1,500 flight hours. The aviation group is hoping that the regulatory measure can be reduced by two-thirds for co-pilots.

Despite, most pilots having well above the required 1,500 hours, analysts have recently begun to predict that should the economy expand once again, there will be a shortage in the sector. Airlines are now worried that the FAA raising the threshold for co-pilots, also called first officers, from its current requirement of 250 hours to be on par with captains could lead to increased salaries and benefit packages in order to attract the more experience fliers.

University flight schools have expressed similar concerns with the new regulations saying that should beginner pilots be forced to have the 1,500 hours of flight experience prior to being eligible for an airline job, than many new candidates will skip a traditional university training programme in exchange for per-hour instruction to amass flight time. In this vein, the panel has proposed that the FAA allow prospective pilots with university-training to fly with as little as 500 hours.

Over the years, the relationship between captain and first officer has changed with first officers now being expected to fly just as well as captains and share in the same duties. The FAA formed the panel over the summer just prior to Congress passing the aviation safety bill, which will increase hours across the board to 1,500.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post: 22 hour rescue ends with trapped miners brought to surface

Next post: Fresh terror threats in France from Saudi Arabia