FAA to expand airline first officer qualifications

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By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government says it will significantly increase the amount and type of flying experience that first officers — also known as co-pilots — must have to qualify to fly for an airline.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday it will publish new regulations requiring first officers to have at least 1,500 hours of flying experience. Airline captains are already required to have at least 1,500 hours. Previously, first officers were only required to have 250 hours of flight time.

The rule also requires first officers to have an aircraft type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the airplane type they fly.

The new regulations are required under an aviation safety law enacted in 2010 in response to the crash of a regional airliner near Buffalo, N.Y., that killed 50 people.

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