New Rules Would Halve Flight Requirement Overseas

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Under new rules to be introduced later this year by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the minimum flight time for commercial pilots in Europe would be cut from 145 hours to 70, while simulator time would increase from 90 to 170 hours. The British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA) is protesting the change. "Simulators may be amazingly realistic but you always know you will be going home at the end of the day," Martin Alder, spokesman for BALPA, told The London Times. "There is no substitute for the unpredictability of real flying." Lufthansa, which has invested heavily in new simulators, has pressured ICAO to make the changes, according to The Times. Supporters of the change say that pilot trainees learn more from simulator time than from simply building time in real airplanes. Also, there is a shortage of pilots in Europe (as in India and China, see above) and the change would allow new pilots to be trained more quickly. BALPA has asked ICAO to hold trials before making the new rules final. "We need to assess the results of trials before exposing the public to this," Alder told The Times.