AAJ: Increase Pilot Training to Improve Aviation Safety

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For Immediate Release: April 8, 2010

Contact: Jamie Hammon
American Association for Justice
202-965-3500 x8369
AAJ Press Room

AAJ: Increase Pilot Training to Improve Aviation Safety

Comments submitted to FAA urge stronger pilot certification requirements

Washington, DC—The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should require more rigorous training for second in command pilots to ensure air travel is safer for passengers, according to comments submitted today by the American Association for Justice (AAJ). The comments are in response to the FAA’s Advance Notice on Proposed Rulemaking regarding pilot certifications.

AAJ states in its comments that second-in-command (SIC) pilots – who currently must complete a minimum of 190 flight time training hours to obtain commercial certification – should be required to have Air Transport Pilot certificates, which require 1500 hours of flight time training.  The current requirements “do not provide enough training to ensure that dangerous situations are recognized, evaluated and responded to in a safe and timely manner.”

Beyond adding additional experience and skill, Air Transport Pilot certification would increase pilots’ salaries, thus reducing the job turnover that leads to less experience and safety in the cockpit. Higher pay would also allow pilots to live closer to their home base or spend money on hotel rooms instead of regularly commuting hundreds of miles, only to arrive fatigued for a flight.

The need to strengthen pilot certification requirements was tragically reinforced last year when a Colgan Air flight, operating as Continental Connection Flight 3407, crashed near Buffalo, NY, killing 50 people. Investigations into the accident revealed serious flight safety shortcomings, including pilots with too little experience, inadequate training, poverty wages, long commutes and suffering from fatigue.

AAJ is also encouraging the FAA to:

  • not permit academic credit in lieu of required flight hours or experience. While academic study is helpful, it is not in any way a replacement for actual experience piloting a plane and should not be allowed to replace any portion of the required flight hours and experience for a SIC pilot.
  • require pilots to take additional training and qualified operating experience in specific hazardous conditions, but not in lieu of required flight hours.

“The current level of training required for pilots is not substantial enough and has made the airways unsafe for passengers,” said AAJ President Anthony Tarricone. “The rigor of pilot certification should be first priority when it comes to improving flight safety.”

For a copy of AAJ comments, click here.


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