New pilot training rule seeks to make air travel safer than ever
Air travelers, their loved ones, airlines, pilots, and the men and women here at the Federal Aviation Administration have at least one thing in common: we all want air travel to be as safe as possible. And when it comes to the cockpit, we expect our pilots to have extensive training and the skills and confidence to appropriately handle any situation.
That's why, today, we're introducing a final rule on commercial air carrier pilot training. This new rule requires our pilots to have the most advanced training available to handle emergencies they may encounter. Like earlier rules on pilot fatigue and pilot qualifications, today's rule is in part a response to the tragic, February 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407.
We're focusing on pilot training for events that –although rare– can be catastrophic. Focusing on these events will provide the greatest safety benefit to the flying public.
The FAA has consistently issued strong training guidance to air carriers. But this rule represents one of the most significant updates of air carrier pilot training in the last 20 years.
With the technology now available in flight simulators today, we will be able to greatly enhance training. This includes how to prevent and recover from stalls and upsets. We also want pilots to have more experience with crosswinds and gusts. And more experience with how to handle the loss of reliable airspeed data.
This rule also allows airlines to view a pilot’s training performance over time with greater ability to track patterns of deficiencies in a pilot’s training performance. If the same type of failure occurs again, or if a similar failure occurs, the airline and the pilot will need to take additional steps to demonstrate the pilot’s capability.
And, airlines will have the data to evaluate whether a training program is effective.
We always expect that the pilot who is not flying the aircraft will monitor the pilot who is flying the plane, during all phases of flight. He or she must act as a second set of eyes and ears to assure situational awareness and to intervene when necessary. This rule requires airlines to train pilots on how to effectively monitor the pilot who is flying.
And finally, the rule requires training to enhance runway safety precautions. It will reinforce that pilots need to confirm the assigned runway as part of their pre-departure briefing. They will also need to confirm that the correct runway is loaded into the aircraft’s flight management system.
We made a promise to the families of Colgan Flight 3407 that we would do everything we could to strengthen safety. The Colgan families have been a great help not only with this rule, but with the earlier rules to reduce pilot fatigue and improve pilot qualifications. They have advocated effectively for safety improvements that will benefit millions of other families. And we thank them for that.
Michael Huerta is Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.