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FAA boosts aviation safety with new pilot qualification standards

WASHINGTON — In a final rule to be published soon, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced that it is increasing the qualification requirements for first officers who fly for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines.
The rule requires first officers — also known as co-pilots — to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, requiring 1,500 hours total time as a pilot. Previously, first officers were required to have only a commercial pilot certificate, which requires 250 hours of flight time.
The rule also requires first officers to have an aircraft type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the airplanes they fly.
“Safety will be my overriding priority as Secretary, so I am especially pleased to mark my first week by announcing a rule that will help us maintain our unparalleled safety record,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We owe it to the traveling public to have only the most qualified and best trained pilots.”
The new regulations stem in part from the tragic crash of Colgan Air 3407 in February 2009, and address a Congressional mandate in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 to ensure that both pilots and co-pilots receive the ATP certification. The rule is one of several rulemakings required by the Act, including the new flight duty and rest requirements for pilots that were finalized in December 2011, and new training requirements expected this fall for air carrier training programs to ensure pilots know how to react properly in difficult operating environments.
“The rule gives first officers a stronger foundation of aeronautical knowledge and experience before they fly for an air carrier,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “With this rule and our efforts to address pilot fatigue — both initiatives championed by the families of Colgan flight 3407 — we’re making a safe system even safer.”
Other highlights of the rule include:

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