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Flight Crew Fatigue Follow-up & FAA Fines

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Many new regulations are taking place as a result of speculation that pilot and crew fatigue are causing aircraft accidents. Even with the new crew rules on the horizon it is apparent that we have seen only the beginning of FAA enforcement regarding crew rest.
In a recent announcement, the Federal Aviation Administration has decided that from review of records from June 14, 2008 to February 23, 2009, they will be seeking a civil penalty of $153,000 alleging that Colgan Air operated 17 flights without providing pilots or flight attendants the required minimum amount of rest.
Colgan has 30 days to respond to the agency, and has announced it is seeking to have the fines reduced or eliminated. A web story on this can be accessed at: http://articles.cnn.com/2012-03-02/travel/travel_faa-colgan-air_1_flight-attendants-colgan-air-flight-faa?_s=PM:TRAVEL
After almost any type of accident there is an investigation to determine the cause of the accident so changes can be put into place to prevent a tragedy from taking place again. Aviation is no different. There are many different agencies in place in the aviation industry to investigate and work together on these causes so the industry can become more educated, and look toward the future to stop these events from reoccurring.
Recently there has been plenty conversation about the rest, training and fitness of the crew. The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (HR 5900), may possibly modify the training qualifications of co-pilots. HR 5900 was put into place to extend the funding and expenditure authority of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, as well as to extend airport improvement program project grant authority and to improve airline safety.
In the proposal put forth by the FAA are recommendations from the NTSB, Aviation Rulemaking Committee, and the FAA’s Call to Action Committee. The rule as currently proposed would affect first officers who fly for U.S. passenger AND cargo airlines (unlike the Pilot Fatigue rules which do not apply to pilots who fly cargo carriers). These recommended changes are being proposed in hopes that by better training the crew they will be more capable of handling unexpected situations and averting future accidents.

The proposed changes as announced by the FAA:

  • Require first officers to hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, requiring 1,500 hours of pilot flight time. Currently they must hold a commercial pilot certificate requiring only 250 hours of flight time.
  • The proposal would require first officers to have an aircraft type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the aircraft they intend to fly.
  • Requires for a pilot to have a minimum of 1,000 flight hours as a pilot in air carrier operations that require an ATP prior to serving as a captain for a U.S. airline.
  • Enhances the training requirements for an ATP certificate, including 50 hours of multi-engine flight experience and completion of a new FAA-approved training program.


  • The rule would create an allowance for pilots with fewer than 1,500 hours of flight time, but who have an aviation degree or military pilot experience, to obtain a “restricted privileges” ATP certificate. These pilots could serve only as a first officer, not as a captain. Former military pilots with 750 hours of flight time would be able to apply for an ATP certificate with restricted privileges. Graduates of a four-year baccalaureate aviation degree program would be able to obtain an ATP with 1,000 hours of flight time, only if they also obtained a commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating from a pilot school affiliated with the university or college.
As of February 29th, the proposed rule change was published in the Federal Register. There will be 60 days for public comment from any interested party, and 30 days for reply comments. This is provided so the parties who this change will affect have the opportunity to voice their comments and concerns.

Category: Airplane Accident

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