Report: FAA lags on fulfilling airline safety law

By Joan Lowy

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Feb. 2 2013 1:20 p.m. MST

For example, the FAA is behind schedule on rules to substantially increase the experience required to become an airline pilot from the current 250 flight hours to 1,500 flight hours. The agency currently estimates it will issue the rules in August, a year after the deadline set in the law. Airlines, worried they won't be able to find enough qualified new pilots, oppose the increase, arguing that a pilot's quality and type of flying should be weighed more heavily than the number of flight hours.

The FAA has proposed a compromise that would allow military pilots with 750 hours of flight experience or pilots with 1,000 hours and a four-year aviation degree to qualify to be hired as an airline pilot, but airlines remain opposed. If the FAA doesn't act by the August deadline, the increase to 1,500 hours will take effect without the exceptions offered in FAA's compromise proposals.

Yet the FAA and its inspectors haven't taken steps to ensure regional airlines, which will most affected, will be able to meet the new requirements, the report said. At two regional carriers visited by the inspector general's office, 75 percent of the first officers didn't have an air transport certificate — the highest level pilot's license issued by the FAA —which will be required for all airline pilots by the August deadline.

Follow Joan Lowy at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy

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