FAA increases flight hours for airline co-pilot qualifications
El Paso, TEXAS (KTSM) — Big changes for commercial airline pilots. Today the Federal Aviation Administration announced it's releasing new guidelines for co-pilots, stemming in part from a 2009 crash, requiring them to increase their flight hours in order to fly for an airline.
Co-pilots will be required to have 1,500 hours of total flight time as a pilot to qualify for an airline. This is up from a prior requirement of 250 hours. The changes couldn't be more timely after last weekend's Asiana Airline plane crash that claimed two lives and injured hundreds others.
The new regulations actually address a congressional mandate that both pilots and co-pilots have an airline transport pilot certificate. The change actually stemmed from a plane crash a few years ago in New York. Families of the pilots of Colgan air flight 3407 have championed these issues since the February 2009 crash that killed 50 people.
Wednesday, a traveler at the El Paso International Airport shared her thoughts.
"I'm really paying attention to ok what do i do, if we do crash. put this mask on how do i do it? where is located? i mean if that were in my loved ones i would definitely be all for this experience thing so makes me feel safer," said Jackie Williams-Sanders.
Williams-Sanders says the Asiana Airlines crash is an urgent reminder of how important training and pilot experience can be. The new rule will take effect August first. The rule also requires first officers to undergo new training and testing specific to the planes they fly.