New York City, NY – If you fly overseas, you might be surprised to learn that foreign pilots aren’t required to have as many flight training hours as their American counterparts.
According to media reports, the tragic Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air Boeing 737 Max aviation accidents have prompted international aviation authorities to reevaluate mandatory flight hours and training requirements for pilots abroad.
The Boeing 737 Max Crashes Prompt Concern About Pilot Training
Reports state that the pilots involved in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash tried repeatedly to keep their plane from crashing. Data from the flight reveals the pilots pulled back on the yoke in an attempt to force the plane’s nose up. They also adjusted the trim, but they were distracted by alarms and warnings as they fought to correct the plane’s trajectory.
Despite their efforts, the plane crashed, killing everyone on board. While investigations revealed flaws in the Boeing 737 Max’s automated flight system, they also raised serious concerns about pilot training and flight hours.
Specifically, the United Nations committee that oversees international standards for aviation has stated it will review pilot flying hour requirements in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air accidents.
The UN committee has also stated that it will look at adding additional training requirements for international pilots.
Pilot Training Differences of 1,500 Hours vs. 240 Hours
In the United States, a pilot must have amassed at least 1,500 actual flight hours before acting as a co-pilot on a commercial jet.
In contrast, co-pilots in foreign countries are required to have just 240 hours, with some of those hours occurring in a simulator.
The U.S. hasn’t always had such strict flight hours requirements. Prior to 2010, pilots needed just 250 hours to start flying for a commercial airline. The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 raised this requirement from 250 hours to 1,500 hours.
On the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max flight, the pilot had 8,122 flight hours, but his copilot had just 361 hours and had earned his commercial airline license a mere three months before the accident.
After the crash, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is part of the United Nations, stated it will conduct a review of international flight hour regulations for pilots. The ICAO also said that it will investigate pilot competency and training programs.
American pilots say that better training is a good first step, but that pilots also need flying hours to keep passengers and crew members safe in the air. According to the president of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations, nothing beats flight hours for experience. He went on to explain, “If you’re going to fly in winter weather, you need to see it a couple of times.”
Stricter Flying Hours Requirement Leads to Pilot Shortage
In the United States, more restrictive pilot requirements have led to what was perhaps an unintended result in the form of a growing pilot shortage.
While pilots in the United States are required to have far more flight experience hours compared to their foreign counterparts, airlines in the U.S. have continued to see pilot shortages as a result of raising the hour requirement for pilots.
For example, when minimum flight requirements went up from 250 hours to 1,500 hours in 2013 following the investigation of the deadly 2009 Colgan Air commuter flight near Buffalo, New York, the Regional Airline Association stated that the cost of becoming an airline pilot went up too, causing a barrier to entry for some would-be pilots.
Because pilots in the U.S. must gain more hours before they can fly for a commercial airline, it requires them to pay almost $200,000 on average for the hours they need.
With the starting salary for copilots coming in at around $61,000, many people interested in flying as a career are unable to afford the high cost of training.
As a growing number of experienced pilots are retiring due to the FAA’s mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots, there are fewer young pilots prepared to take their place.
Aviation experts say the pilot shortage is becoming a cause for concern in the airline industry, as consumer demand for flights continues to go up.
Talk to an NYC Aviation Accident Lawyer About Your Case
If you have been injured on an international or domestic flight, or you have lost a loved one in an airline accident at home or overseas, it’s important to discuss your case with a New York City aviation accident lawyer.
Airline accidents are complex cases that often involve multiple and even foreign jurisdictions due to the nature of flight travel. It’s in your best interest to work with an experienced aviation accident lawyer who can help explain your rights and help you decide the best course of action in your case.
Contact the top-rated law firm in New York by calling Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm at 212-736-0979 or schedule a free consultation at his Manhattan Office in the Empire State Building.
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