Lawmaker to Foxx: Congratulations, now finish pilot training rules

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The new rules for pilots have been sought since the crash of a Continental Airlines regional airplane in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009. The plane, Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed as it approached the Buffalo airport, killing 50 people, including one person who was in a house on the ground.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enacted new rules for pilot scheduling after fatigue was found to be a potential cause of errors that were made by the people who were flying the doomed flight.

Under the new rules, pilots are required to get at least 10 hours of off-duty time between flight schedules, which transportation officials said would give them at least the opportunity to get eight hours of sleep before they get to the cockpit.

Larsen said the DOT under Foxx should push forward with efforts to establish higher experience requirements for pilots of regional airline flight, which are normally operated on a contract-basis for major airlines by smaller companies.

"The crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407…was a tragic indication of the need for updated requirements in these areas," Larsen wrote. "I was pleased that the FAA published a notice of proposed rulemaking in response to these mandates early last year, a final rule satisfying these mandates will be overdue next month."

The Washington state lawmaker invoked Foxx's predecessor, former Republican Rep. Ray LaHood (Ill.), in his pitch to the Obama administration's new transportation chief.

"Secretary LaHood was a champion of a number of safety-related initiatives over the past four years," Larsen wrote to Foxx. "I hope that you will continue in that spirit, and that you will work towards the issuance of the final rule on airline pilot qualification and training as swiftly as possible."