While the Obama Administration wants to raise user fees for any non-piston aircraft to $100 per flight fee when operating a flight plan in controlled airspace (See Turning the US into Europe with general aviation user fees), the FAA wants to substantially raise the qualification requirements for first officers who fly for US passenger and cargo airlines to 1,500 hours of flight time.
Specifically and under the new proposal, first officers will need to:
- Hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate rather than just a commercial pilot certificate (the later requires 250 hours of flight time).
- Have an aircraft type rating – meaning they will need additional training and testing specific to the aircraft they fly.
In addition, the proposal would require pilots to have a minimum of 1,000 flight hours as a pilot in air carrier operations that require an ATP before they can serve as a captain for an US airline plus they will need enhanced training for the ATP certificate (e.g. 50 hours of multi-engine flight experience, complete a new FAA-approved training program etc.)
However, there will be an allowance for pilots who have fewer than 1,500 hours of flight time. Anyone with an aviation degree and 1,000 hours or who has military pilot experience with 750 hours will be able to obtain a “restricted privileges” ATP certificate but they will only be able to serve as a first officer and not as a captain.
Obviously the impact of the proposed FAA rules have not been loss on some of those who oppose the Obama administration’s proposed fee increases as obviously any fee increase will have a tendency to discourage flying – meaning it will be harder for would-be commercial pilots to get the hours necessary to be commercial or cargo pilots. Nevertheless, at least the proposed FAA rules should (in theory) increase safety and perhaps offset any safety loss (as some pilots stop filing flight plans to avoid the $100 user fee) under the Obama Administration’s proposal.