It’s excessive to require 1,500 hours for co-pilots
After reading comments by Reps. Brian Higgins and Chris Collins in the March 8 Buffalo News regarding Flight 3407, I must respond. The 1,500-hour requirement for airline co-pilot employment is, in fact, excessive; 1,000 hours should suffice. The two main causes of the crash were lack of cockpit discipline and failure to employ proper procedures to recover from the crew-induced emergency.
This crash would likely have happened no matter how much flight time the crew had accumulated. The pilot and co-pilot were undisciplined and ill-trained. In-flight discipline is not dependent on accumulated flight hours. It is a cultural installation of the profession at large and of the specific airline. Neither is the ability to recognize and recover from an abnormal flight situation something that is learned in day-to-day airline operations. Contrary to Collins’ assertion, those skills are not learned in an aircraft, but in state-of-the-art flight simulators that are specifically designed and used for training in emergency procedures.
Higgins “algebra test” comment is faulty logic at best – no one claimed flight hours aren’t essential; they just don’t happen to be the solution to this problem. The logical solution is to increase the requirement for simulator training. With all due respect to their collective aviation experience, I suggest Higgins and Collins need better-informed arguments to support their opinions.
Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Retired)
Captain, Continental Airlines (Retired)