Amid increasing demand for air travel and a looming pilot shortage, the Federal Aviation Administration is considering a proposal to reduce the amount of cockpit experience required for commercial co-pilots, spurring concerns about aviation safety.
The development comes at the same time that a prominent low-cost carrier is receiving FAA scrutiny of its safety record.
Heading into this Labor Day weekend, industry group Airlines for America estimated that the number of air passengers would increase 4 percent from the same holiday weekend last year, from 15 million to 15.6 million. That’s in line with the 4.5 percent year-to-year increase in domestic airline passengers government statistics show through May. Longer-term, the number of total domestic airline passengers has increased each year since 2009.
That demand for flights, and the resulting need for pilots, has led the FAA to create a joint industry-labor group to assess ways to accommodate the passenger volume. One of the proposals from the group, according to The Wall Street Journal, is to allow some military pilots to become commercial co-pilots with as little as 500 hours of flight time, down from the 750 hours required of such pilots today. As recently as 2013, most non-military pilots were required to have at least 1,500 hours of flight time to be commercial co-pilots, the WSJ said.
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