Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010
The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 was passed to improve safety regulations and pilot training in the aviation industry. Learn more about our Aviation Accident practice.
On February 12, 2009, Colgan Flight 3407, operating under the Continental Connection name, crashed during its approach into Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York. All 50 people on board were killed in the tragedy. Following an NTSB investigation, it was determined that two of the major contributing factors to the disaster were the inexperience of the pilots in their response to a stall warning and fatigue.
The pilot was not familiar with the stick-pusher system designed to avoid a stall and overrode the mechanism when it engaged. It was later discovered that the pilot had failed at least two flight simulator “check rides” administered by the FAA during his employment at Colgan, as well as failing other tests at past employers. Kreindler attorney Justin Green who represented 11 of the families noted it was “really scary that they hired someone with that many red marks against his resume.”
The co-pilot also had only a commercial pilot certificate and not an airline transport pilot certificate (ATP) that is required for captains, as per regulations at the time.
The families of those who perished lobbied Congress for the bill that directed the FAA to revise its rules relating to pilot training and scheduling.
With this rule and our efforts to address pilot fatigue — both initiatives championed by the families of Colgan Flight 3407 — we're making a safe system even safer.
The FAA responded with several changes:
- First officers on commercial aircraft, also referred to as co-pilots, would need to be equally qualified as the pilot and receive an ATP certificate, raising their minimum flight hour requirement from 250 to 1,500.
- Pilots must also accrue 1,000 flight hours of experience as a first officer of a commercial air carrier before becoming a captain of a U.S. airliner.
- New scheduling requirements were implemented to reduce fatigue. The time between flights was increased from eight to ten hours, and the amount of off-duty hours was increased from 24 to 30 hours a week.
- Pilot education was expanded to cover training in risk-assessment and responding to specific hazardous situations, including how to recover from the type of stall that led to the crash of Colgan 3407.
The bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama on August 1, 2010.