The federal government is toughening the qualifications for co-pilots on American passenger planes — days after a crash landing in San Francisco in which pilot experience has become a question.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that it will require 1,500 hours of flight time for co-pilots of passenger and cargo planes, up from 250. It will also require them to have additional training specific to the planes they fly.
The agency said that the rule was a response to another air accident — the crash of a turboprop commuter plane outside Buffalo, N.Y., that killed 50 people in February 2009. Investigators cited pilot error as a likely cause.
An FAA spokeswoman, Alison Duquette, said that the timing of the new requirements had nothing to do with the San Francisco crash, which killed two Chinese teenagers and injured 180 people on Sunday.
In that crash, Asiana Airlines Flight 214, investigators have said that the pilot in charge of the flight was making his first trip as an instructor, overseeing a pilot who was still training on the Boeing 777 and was at the controls.
Relatives of people killed in the Buffalo crash, Continental Connection Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, have pushed for tougher safety requirements. That plane crashed into a house, killing 45 passengers, four members of the crew and a man in the house.
The pilot of the Buffalo crash was faulted for an improper response to the stick shaker, a mechanism that rattles the controls in the pilot’s hands when the plane is in danger of stalling. The stick shaker also activated four seconds before the San Francisco crash.
First published July 10 2013, 9:16 AM