South Australian independent Senator Nick Xenophon is planning to move for a Senate inquiry into pilot training standards, he announced in a speech to the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) recently.
In particular, Senator Xenophon expressed concern about the low levels of experience that commercial pilots are permitted to have. “It amazed me that the current minimum mandated requirement for flight hours before a pilot can gain their commercial licence is just 200 hours … and I suspect most Australians would have the same reaction I did,” he said, adding that “200 hours is not much more than what a teenage driver requires to get their P-plates in some states.”
He also criticised Jetstar over its failure to initially report an incident that occurred in July 2007 when one of the airline’s A320s descended to within 38ft of the ground with its landing gear retracted after the pilots had elected to initiate a go-around, which was later traced to inadequate training on procedures for go-arounds.
In light of that, the Senator noted that he would move for an inquiry into aviation training and standards in Australia when the Senate resumes sitting in the coming weeks. He added that he will also push for an overhaul of the Transport Safety Investigation Act to change reporting protocols so that pilots’ incident reports are not mishandled within airlines.