FAA head downplays airline pilot hour requirement

December 22, 2009

“We do not believe that simply raising quantity—the total number of hours of flying time or experience—without regard to the quality and nature of that time and experience—is an appropriate method by which to improve a pilot’s proficiency in commercial operations.”

That was the message from FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt to a Senate committee recently in response to a House bill that would require future airline first officers to have 1,500 hours of total flight time. The bill passed the House on strong support from the families of victims of Colgan Flight 3407 that crashed near Buffalo earlier this year.

Babbitt went on to say that the FAA believes more targeted experience, such as icing and high altitude operations, could substitute for total flight experience.