As part of the FAA's effort to improve airline safety following last year's Colgan Air accident in Buffalo, N.Y., the agency on Monday issued an "advance notice of proposed rulemaking" seeking input about what kind of training and certification should be required for pilots flying in Part 121 airline jobs. The FAA seeks comments on several points, such as, should all airline first officers be ATP rated, should academic credit count toward ratings, and should commercial pilots be required to meet a higher flight-hour minimum or acquire an added endorsement to fly in a Part 121 crew. "We must build on the current pilot certification system and make it even stronger," said Ray LaHood, secretary of transportation. "Our nation's airlines should have the best-trained and best-prepared pilots in the cockpit." FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said he is looking for new ways to measure pilot competence other than merely counting flight hours. "Experience is not measured by flight time alone," said Babbitt. "Pilots need to have quality training and experience appropriate to the mission to be ready to handle any situation they encounter."
The public has 60 days to send comments to the FAA. Those comments will be incorporated into an NPRM which will also be open to public comment. Click here for the full text of the advance NPRM, including details about how to submit comments. Click here for the FAA's news release about the proposal. The FAA said it will issue proposals in the spring to address both pilot training and pilot fatigue.