Senate guts new experience requirements in FAA Authorization Bill

Posted on 24. Mar, 2010 by in Airline Safety, Blog

The Senate reduced the new experience standard to the arbitrary number of 800 hours from the proposed 1,500. Arbitrary? Yes; 800 hours does not equate to any significant milestone, check ride or experience level in Aviation. The 1,500 hour requirement originally proposed was coupled with an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) rating.

Each level of pilot certification comes with a raised performance level. Simply put; the further you progress, the higher the demonstrated skill level required to successfully complete the associated check ride. You are expected to fly better on your Commercial check ride then you did on your Private; the ultimate check and standard, is your ATP.

The initial proposal required that before you could fly as an airline pilot, you had to have proved you could fly to the standards of an airline pilot. Seemed logical; the flight schools, my own Alma Mata included, screamed bloody murder. Why? They knew that the last few students they had willing to go 100K into debt, to get a 20K a year job, would quit. Going from 190 hours to 1,500 would run the cost of being an airline pilot up exponentially. As always it is not about right or wrong, not even safety, it is about the money.

“Lives will be saved,” Senator Byron Dorgan, the North Dakota Democrat who heads the aviation subcommittee, said after the vote. “We really do advance the interests of pilot training and experience.”

No they really don’t; just an arbitrary number. In fact, the United States Navy determined years ago, after studying a history of aviation accidents, that the most UNSAFE pilots historically have between 800-1,000 hours. Ironic indeed!

You might be surprised that a North Dakota Senator is leading the charge (or capitulation depending on your view) of aviation experience. I’m not; the University of North Dakota has one of the largest flight schools in the USA. Some things never change, especially in congress.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply