1,500-Hour Rule Relaxation Oppposed
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., says he’ll fight any move to relax rules that require airline pilots to have a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time before they can fly airliners. Schumer was one of the architects of the controversial regs adopted by the FAA at the direction of Congress after the 2009 crash of a Colgan Air Q400 in Buffalo, New York, that killed all 49 people on board and one person who was in the house the stalling Bombardier turboprop landed on. Last week, the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, which advises the FAA on regulatory issues, said the hours requirement should be relaxed in favor of “airline-based education and training programs.” The Air Line Pilots Association and the Association of Flight Attendants voted against the recommendation.
Ironically, Schumer told NPR that what’s needed is for airline pilots to “train in adverse conditions” and that “more training and experience” would have prevented the loss of life. His version of the events was that “there was ice on the wings and one of the levers jammed. There was a way to solve it but the pilot didn't know it because he didn't have enough training. That's why those people died.” That’s not what the NTSB found. The investigation concluded the aircraft entered a stall, the captain overrode the aircraft’s stick shaker/pusher system and pulled back on the yoke and added power while the FO retracted the flaps, further aggravating the stall. The captain had 3379 hours (111 as a Q400 captain) and the FO 2244 hours. Schumer has support for his fight against relaxing the rules in fellow New York Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who credited the 1,500-hour rule with ending fatal airline accidents in the U.S. “It’s no coincidence that we haven’t had a tragedy like Flight 3407 recently because the rules are working and they have made air travel safer,” she told NPR.