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FAA Releases NPRM on Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements for Air Carriers

NAFI HEADQUARTERS, ALLEGAN, MICH.  (February 27, 2012) - The FAA today released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements for Air Carrier Operations.  This proposed rulemaking effort is the culmination of input from a number of aviation organizations and stakeholders in Aviation Rulemaking Committees (ARCs) over the past two years.


The rulemaking process is the result of Congressional lawmaking that took place over a year ago asking the FAA to revise pilot training requirements for pilots who will operate in the Part 121 Air Carrier environment.


NAFI Executive Director Jason Blair said, "these changes have the potential to affect flight training. The choices that are made in this regulatory environment have a significant potential to negatively affect our Part 121 pilot supply in the future."  


He added, "how we structure our requirements for career options in aviation can have a significant affect on the training environment and the ability of training providers to provide the necessary skill base for their customers to be employable at the end of their training.  When instructors and training providers work to prepare students for potential careers in an airline, the requirements that must be met to be employable for these jobs can significantly affect training funding, pilot motivation for career pursuit, and instructor planning for their customers among other concerns." 


An FAA press release on the NPRM noted these highlights:

  • Consistent with a mandate in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, the proposed rule would require first officers - also known as co-pilots - to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, requiring 1,500 hours of pilot flight time. Currently, first officers are required to have only a commercial pilot certificate, which requires 250 hours of flight time. The proposal also would require first officers to have an aircraft type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the airplanes they fly.
  • A requirement 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.  
  • Enhanced training requirements for an ATP certificate, including 50 hours of multi-engine flight experience and completion of a new FAA-approved training program.
  • 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.

This NPRM is not a final rule, but a call for feedback to the FAA. NAFI will provide information to members when this feedback is open, which will offer a 60 day comment period for the aviation industry.  All feedback received by the FAA will be closely reviewed after the comment period is closed and prior to any final rule publication.


The full text of the NPRM can be viewed at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/recently_published/media/2120-AJ67NPRM.pdf.


NAFI staff will be reviewing the content of this NPRM and providing a summary to members and will also be asking for member input as NAFI provides comments to the FAA. NAFI staff will continue to keep members informed as this effort develops.

About the National Association of Flight Instructors:


The National Association of Flight Instructors' members work at flight schools, universities, FBO's, corporate flight departments, in the military, and as independent instructors. NAFI was founded in 1967 and its members, who now teach in 17 countries, are dedicated to raising and maintaining the professionalism of flight instruction.


NAFI members influence active pilots daily; pilots training to advance their skills with new ratings or certificates and students working to become pilots. NAFI staff also works with industry and government and serves as a voice for flight instruction. NAFI shapes the direction of flight training.

For more information, visit www.NAFINet.org or call (866) 806-6156.


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