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Old 09-16-2010, 06:27 AM   #1  
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Default FAA Panel urges changes to FO qualifications

FAA Panel Urges Enhanced Qualifications for Airline Co-Pilots

SEPTEMBER 15, 2010, 8:54 P.M. ET

By ANDY PASZTOR


A high-level FAA advisory panel, seeking to improve cockpit safety, has called for significantly enhanced training and proficiency standards for airline co-pilots, according to people familiar with the report.


The recommendations, these people said, urge the Federal Aviation Administration to require newly hired co-pilots to have more-rigorous training, demonstrate higher academic qualifications and pass tougher flight tests than current government regulations generally mandate.


The result could be a new kind of license focused on skills needed to fly high-performance, pressurized aircraft, rather than the propeller-powered planes most fledgling pilots traditionally have used to build up flight hours in their logbooks.


Commuter airlines likely would face the biggest and most costly changes, because their new hires tend to have the least experience.


If the FAA ends up embracing the proposal—which already has stirred up controversy among industry officials—it would represent the most dramatic changes in decades to commercial-pilot qualifications and licensing. It also likely would revamp the way private pilot-training schools and various companies across the country prepare and test students who want to move into airliner cockpits.


Overall, the recommendations aim to ensure higher standards for new co-pilots, so they will be more familiar with the aerodynamics of high-performance aircraft; more knowledgeable about challenges such as high-altitude and winter operations; and better able to react to emergencies including aircraft upsets or stalls.


The committee of safety experts, including representatives of airlines and pilot unions, was convened by the FAA to analyze whether tougher licensing rules should be imposed on newly hired co-pilots. The group finished its work last Friday, according to people familiar with the matter, and a final report is slated to go to Peggy Gilligan, the agency's top safety official.


The biggest change envisioned by the recommendations, these people said, is to require each co-pilot to demonstrate mastery of the specific aircraft model he or she will be assigned to operate—before being allowed to carry any passengers.


Current FAA rules only require co-pilots to have a commercial license and certain minimum experience flying multi-engine planes. Under the proposed standards, co-pilots intending to start flying passengers also would have to obtain a "type rating," or certificate demonstrating competence at the controls of a specific aircraft type.



Such ratings are currently mandated solely for captains. But several large carriers, including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Continental Airlines enforce their own, tougher hiring standards and essentially require new co-pilots to have such certificates.


On Wednesday, an FAA spokeswoman said the agency is "eager to review the recommendations on how the FAA can strengthen pilot experience." She said Randy Babbitt, the agency's chief, "is committed to giving pilots the training and experience appropriate...to handle any situation they encounter." The FAA in February took the first formal step toward imposing new licensing requirements.


A spokesman for the Air Transport Association, which represents mainline carriers, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest U.S. pilot union, declined to comment. A spokesman for the Regional Airline Association, which represents commuter carriers also declined to comment.


The recommendations come in the wake of several high-profile airline incidents and accidents that highlighted lapses in co-pilot skills and judgment, including the February 2009 crash of a Colgan Air turboprop near Buffalo, N.Y., that resulted in 50 fatalities.


Largely prompted by that accident, FAA officials, lawmakers, pilot unions and independent pilot-training firms have been mulling ways to upgrade the qualifications of new co-pilots.


Charles Hogeman, a United Airlines captain and head of ALPA's human factors and training group, told pilots at a recent public safety forum: "You're going to see very significant changes in the way pilots are trained and qualified" in the next two or three years.


Earlier this year, Congress passed legislation mandating that all newly hired co-pilots have at least 1,500 hours of flight time. The recommendations would allow pilots to be hired with fewer hours, but only if they could demonstrate advanced ground-school or flight training aimed at familiarizing them with airline operations.


Write to Andy Pasztor at [email protected]
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:33 AM   #2  
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Current FAA rules only require co-pilots to have a commercial license and certain minimum experience flying multi-engine planes. Under the proposed standards, co-pilots intending to start flying passengers also would have to obtain a "type rating," or certificate demonstrating competence at the controls of a specific aircraft type.
My question is this: does it really cost the airlines more money to type rate a pilot newly qualified as an FO on a plane?

At CAL we obviously type rate every pilot, but I don't recall the training being anything that different than what was required when I was given my type ride as captain at the regional level. Yes, on recurrent checkrides there are certain items FOs don't do, esp. if two are paired together.

So to any check airmen out there, is the initial training on the aircraft that much different between captains and first officers?
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:50 AM   #3  
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RTO
Single engine approach on a 3 engine aircraft
Two engine approach on a 4 engine aircraft
Manual reversion
PIC specific duties

to list just a few.

Last time I checked, the siimulator uses the same amount of electrical current for both F/O and Capt unless repeats are required.

However, the amount of ink from the pen depends on the competency of both airmen being checked.
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:07 AM   #4  
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I think you also have to taxi the airplane as well to get a type.


Here's a thought too, maybe the airlines should train pilots for more than just being able to pass the check ride.
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:12 AM   #5  
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In an AQP environment the left seat approach and taxi is the extra requirement, but keep in mind this is not aimed at the AQP airlines.
This new requirements is aimed at bottom feeder type carriers. At those carriers many FO's repeat the same item with constant coaching to get to PTS, and then they get passed. Putting a type requirement on all co-pilots raises the bar on the mix standards required for this seat. Adding the other type of "books" study requires a little more. It gets closer to the JAA requirements.

Like I said on another thread, I hope this give us reciprocity with the JAA for our licenses.
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:28 AM   #6  
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They don't need to create a new rating (and 8,000 civil service jobs to manage it)...just require an ATP with type rating for all 121 ops.
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:42 AM   #7  
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Originally Posted by rickair7777 View Post
They don't need to create a new rating (and 8,000 civil service jobs to manage it)...just require an ATP with type rating for all 121 ops.
AMEN. The government costs us too much money already. Let's get this done within the existing framework rather than make more government jobs (taxes).
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:42 AM   #8  
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After taking many FO checkrides as well as Captain rides, I see very little difference in the two...at least in my experience. Captain ride takes maybe 5-10 minutes longer due to one or two extra maneuvers. Both of which the FO is fully capable of doing, but not required to.
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:16 AM   #9  
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The only fair thing to do is make all pilots wear a bag over their head. That way, the examiner couldn't tell whether he was checking a CA or FO. It might solve some other issues as well....
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:27 AM   #10  
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Originally Posted by tomgoodman View Post
The only fair thing to do is make all pilots wear a bag over their head. That way, the examiner couldn't tell whether he was checking a CA or FO. It might solve some other issues as well....
I like it!
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