Airways Circumvent Inefficient Regulation with Inefficient Workaround

A 2010 regulation heightened the in-flight hour requirements for ‘First Officers’ (i.e., copilots) from 250 hours to 1500 hours. Advocacy for this regulation came from the families of Colgan Air Flight 3407, a fatal jetliner crash which the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined was caused by pilots failing to respond to warnings that the airplane was about to stall. However, years into the implementation of the 1500 hours rule, the regulation has shown only questionable increases in flight safety. Critics argue that debatable increases in passenger safety do not offset the sharp increase in costs associated with pilot training. Instead, airlines have figured out a way to circumvent this questionably inefficient regulation by sacrificing commercial efficiency.

The 1500 Hours Rule Grounds the US Airline Industry

The 1500 Hours Rule requires first officers to have at least 1500 hours of total flight time for licensure to fly commercial aircraft. The 2010 regulation boosted the flight time requirement for first officers from 250 to 1500 hours. Due to the heightened experience requirements, regional airlines have grounded flights and reduced their services, as they have not had sufficient qualified pilots to sustain the flights.