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Debate flares over recent congressional FAA safety change

October 21, 2010

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A recent congressional safety change requiring 1,500 hours of flying experience for co-pilots—the same previously required for pilots—has the aviation industry up in arms. The current co-pilot requirement is 250 hours.

According to an ABC News article, the roles of co-pilots and pilots have changed over the years and both are expected to have the same capabilities and share responsibilities.

FAA Concerns

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advisory panel consists of airlines, companies that employ pilots, and flight schools is trying to reduce the 1,500-hour requirement to 500 hours.

Airlines and companies that employee pilots are concerned that increased flying experience will lead to increased salaries for co-pilots, while university flight schools are concerned that beginning pilots will skip expensive flight school training and opt for per-hour instruction.

Differing Opinions

Following a 2009 crash in Buffalo, New York, which killed 50 people, congress took action to increase safety standards and raise required flight hours. Members of congress are holding to the recent requirement.

Others, such as a FAA Administrator and former airline pilot, believe that improving the quality of pilot training should be a greater priority than simply increasing required flight time.


“Aviation Industry Tries to Undercut Key Change.” Lowy, Joan. ABC News. October 2010. Accessed on

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