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Bill Sets 1500-Hour Minimum For Commercial 121 Pilots (Corrected)

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Ed. Note: An earlier story published in AVweb on this topic contained incorrect information. The amended version follows.

Family members of those lost in the fatal crash of Continental Flight 3407 near Buffalo are pushing the Obama administration and FAA chief Randy Babbitt to impose a 1,500-hour minimum for the commercial pilots flying part 121. The crash, which killed all 49 aboard plus one on the ground, has inspired the formation of the group Families of Continental Flight 3407. That group had plans last week to meet with Sen. Charles Schumer, D- N.Y., who has sponsored a bill that would require the 1500-hour minimum. Babbitt is more in favor of changing the FAA's rules regarding training specific to certain types of operations -- particularly, how pilots seeking positions in commercial airliners are trained. As for the hour mandate, Babbitt has said flight hours alone may not guarantee proficiency. Babbitt is already under fire from lawmakers over other concerns.

Some lawmakers believe the FAA has not adequately addressed pilot fatigue. The FAA is expected to issue new rules designed to reduce the threat of pilot fatigue, but final action is still pending. Said Senator Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., the chairman of an aviation subcommittee, "We're just out of patience here." The sentiment was echoed by Margie Brandquist, who lost a sister on the Buffalo flight. "It feels like they are going slow," she told the Washington Post. The NTSB has called the February crash the worst in the U.S. in the past seven years.

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