U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says “a robust discussion” is needed about the future of the so-called 1,500-hour rule, which requires first officers, with some exceptions, to have accumulated at least 1,500 flight hours and an airline transport pilot certificate before being hired.
Chao made the remarks Thursday in an interview with The Washington Post that was part of a webcast discussion of issues facing the U.S. aviation industry, including what Chao called the “tremendous shortage” of pilots.
“There needs to be a robust discussion,” primarily in Congress, about the 1,500-hour rule, which Chao said “has certainly made it so much harder” for many pilots — “pilots who can very safely fly in our skies” — to advance into airline flight jobs.
The rule took effect in 2013 as a result of legislation passed in response to concerns voiced by families of some of the 50 people killed in the Feb. 12, 2009, crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407, a Bombardier Q400 on approach to Buffalo Niagara (New York) International Airport.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the captain’s handling of the controls caused the airplane to stall and said that his actions were a result of “startle and confusion,” not a product of his training. Both the captain and the co-pilot had in excess of 1,500 flight hours.