FAA chief declines to support stricter flight-time requirements

Friday, December 11, 2009


FAA chief declines to back flight-time plan

Federal Aviation Administrator J. Randolph Babbitt on Thursday declined to back a proposal to increase the flight experience required of commercial airline pilots, drawing condemnation from a victims' family group that is fighting for new air safety regulations.

The provision is one of a number of air safety improvements sought by Democrats in Congress and the group Families of Continental Flight 3407, formed after a commuter plane crash that killed 50 people outside Buffalo in February.

A provision in a House bill approved in October prods the Federal Aviation Administration to require all airline pilots to obtain licenses that require 1,500 hours of flight time. Entry-level pilots now typically need about 250 hours.

In a Senate hearing Thursday, Babbitt said he believed the number of flight-time hours alone may not improve the flying proficiency of pilots.

-- Sholnn Freeman


Senate panel passes journalist protections

By a 14 to 5 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a reporters' shield law that would protect journalists who refuse to reveal their sources, but with limited application in cases involving national security and federal criminal prosecutions.

In 2007, the panel passed similar legislation, but it was filibustered on the Senate floor.

Under the legislation, to compel journalists to disclose sources or other confidential matters, the government must demonstrate that the material is essential to national security, will prevent terrorist or criminal acts from occurring or provide information needed by the defense or prosecution in criminal cases.

-- Walter Pincus

Suspect shot near Times Square: A plainclothes police officer and a suspected con artist exchanged gunfire near the heart of Times Square on Thursday, shattering Broadway theater and gift-shop windows before the suspect was shot dead. Spotted by a sergeant who runs a task force that monitors aggressive panhandling, the 25-year-old suspect ran and fired two shots from a stolen MAC-10 machine pistol before it jammed, police said. The officer returned fire and struck the suspect in the chest and arm, killing him.

First of new Afghan troops set to arrive: The Pentagon's top military officer said 16,000 troops have received their orders for Afghanistan since President Obama announced his new war strategy. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the first batch will arrive in southern Afghanistan next week. Officials are moving to get the bulk of the 30,000 additional forces into the war zone by summer.

-- From news services

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