WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIVB) - There has been a major victory for the families of Flight 3407 victims. The FAA announced Wednesday that it's increasing the qualification requirements for pilots flying passenger and cargo planes.
The Federal Aviation Administration has just released its new qualification standards. It directly affects all pilots and copilots for domestic passenger flights and cargo airlines. This is a direct result of the crash of Flight 3407.
Susan Bourque, who lost her sister Beverly Eckert in the crash, said, "I was, as we all were I'm sure, very worried about what might actually happen with this rule, you never know. We knew what we wanted and we got pretty close today."
According to the FAA, all pilots will be required to have a minimum of 1,000 flight hours as a copilot, or first officer, before they can become a captain for a United States airline. All copilots will be required to have 1,500 hours of flying time, before they can get a certificate, allowing them to fly passenger or cargo airplanes. That is an increase from the current standard of 250 hours.
Rep. Brian Higgins said, "And while automation has made the flying public generally more safe, individual training and the skills of pilots have to be enhanced."
All copilots will now have to be certified in the airplane they fly. They will also undergo further testing specific to that plane. This is important to the families affected by Flight 3407 because Marvin Renslow, who was flying the Q-400 for Colgan Airlines, had little experience flying that particular plane. His copilot, Rebecca Shaw, had even fewer hours in the cockpit.
Karen Eckert added, "We've worked hard in this role to ensure that all pilots are well qualified and experienced in the cockpit."
Pilots would also required to be at least 23 years old before they can become a pilot. As reported earlier this week, the FAA had to meet an August 1st deadline, or else harsh, across-the-board rules would go into effect.
Hours after the decision, Justine Krasuski, who lost her husband in the crash of Flight 3407, visited the memorial.
"It's like a burden off my shoulder, that we've done something. You know, they say out of every bad comes a good, and I think we've done good," she said.
There are a few exceptions to the rule. Pilots who have fewer than 1,500 hours and are younger than 23 can qualify for a new "Restricted Certificate" to fly commercial planes if they were in the military or have a bachelor's or associate's degree with a major in aviation. However, the pilot must still be at least 21-years-old.
Marylin Kausner, who lost her child when Flight 3407 crash, said, "It's hard to really take in what a great day this is. This is proof that if you work hard enough, and you have a good cause, you can get even politicians behind you."
These new standards are on par with those strict guidelines. This is a major reform for the aviation industry, thanks to these victims' families who've pushed for change for so long.
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