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FAA proposes overhaul of air carrier crew training (5/12)

May 12, 2011
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a substantial and wide-ranging overhaul of air carrier crew training. The supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) addresses comments from the January 2009 proposal and provisions laid out in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010.

“The United States has the world’s safest aviation system, but we are continually seeking ways to make it even safer,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This proposal will make U.S. pilots and other crewmembers even better-equipped to handle any emergency they may encounter.”

“The FAA is proposing the most significant changes to air carrier training in 20 years,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “This is a major effort to strengthen the performance of pilots, flight attendants and dispatchers through better training.”

Responding to a congressional mandate, the proposed requirements reflect a significant shift in training philosophy designed to produce qualified and capable crewmembers and dispatchers ready to face current and future aviation challenges.

Under this proposal, flight crews would have to demonstrate, not just learn, critical skills in “real-world” training scenarios. Pilots would be required to train as a complete flight crew, coordinate their actions through Crew Resource Management, and fly scenarios based on actual events. Dispatchers would have enhanced training and would be required to apply that knowledge in today’s complex operating environment.

The revised proposal would require ground and flight training to teach pilots how to recognize and recover from stalls and aircraft upsets. The proposal also would require remedial training for pilots with performance deficiencies such as failing a proficiency test or check, or unsatisfactory performance during flight training or a simulator course.

The proposal would address how air carriers may modify training programs for aircraft with similar flight handling characteristics. It also reorganizes and revises the qualification, training, and evaluation requirements for all crewmembers and dispatchers.

Like the original proposal, the supplemental notice would require the use of pilot flight simulation training devices. Pilots also would have to complete special hazard training in addition to practicing the use of crew resource management skills.

The supplemental proposal also contains requirements derived from voluntary FAA-approved alternative training regimens such as Advanced Qualification Programs (AQP). These include:
  • Crew-oriented, scenario-based training;
  • Demonstration of satisfactory skill on each task to determine necessary job performance training hours;
  • A continuous analysis process that lets the certificate holder validate how effective the qualification and training program is, or where it may need to be changed.
The new proposal also clarifies that the proposal’s economic impact on air carriers that conduct training under voluntary, FAA-approved alternative programs, such as AQP, and the time used for flight simulator training, would be minimal.

Flight attendants would be required to complete hands-on emergency drills every 12 months, and the proposal would standardize the training and experience requirements for certain dispatchers and instructors.

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