WASHINGTON — U.S. pilots would need at least 1,500 hours of flight experience to get a job in an airline cockpit, six times the current minimum requirement, under a House-Senate agreement disclosed Tuesday by a passenger advocacy group.
The agreement was outlined by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., to relatives of victims in a fatal crash near Buffalo, N.Y., last year, said Scott Maurer, whose daughter was killed in the accident, and who attended the meeting.
Boosting the minimum required pilot experience from 250 hours has been a top goal of friends and relatives of 50 people who died in the Feb. 12, 2009, crash of a plane belonging to Pinnacle Airlines Corp.'s Colgan unit. Airline pilot unions and House Democrats also pushed for the higher requirement, saying it would lessen the chance of a repeat of the Colgan accident.
Rockefeller appreciates the families' "deep commitment to a safer transportation system," spokeswoman Jena Longo said. The senator believes legislation funding the Federal Aviation Administration, which includes the requirement, "is ready and he is hopeful that the bill will be considered this week," she said. Rockefeller heads the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
The National Transportation Safety Board this year said Colgan Capt. Marvin Renslow of Lutz caused the crash by incorrectly responding to a stall warning in the cockpit. Renslow died along with all passengers, crew and one person on the ground, after the flight for Continental Airlines departed Newark, N.J. 's Liberty airport
A 1,500-hour minimum exceeds the 800 hours approved by the Senate in March as part of $34.6 billion in FAA funding legislation. The House in October 2009 set a 1,500-hour minimum in its version of the bill.