Pilots flying for U.S. airlines will have to undergo more training designed to prevent catastrophic crashes under a new rule issued Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration. The major rewrite of pilot training rules stems in part from the crash of a Colgan Air commuter plane in icy conditions in 2009 and a subsequent congressional mandate to enhance pilot training. It comes on the heels of recent rules raising qualification standards and addressing pilot fatigue as part of the Obama administration's focus on transportation safety.
Commercial pilots will have to take ground and flight training that enables them to prevent and recover from aircraft stalls and upsets, as well as expanded training for handling crosswinds and gusts, with help from improved flight simulators. Pilots will also be trained on more effective ways to monitor their cockpit partner during flight so they can intervene if necessary.
The rule also requires air carriers to use data to track remedial training for pilots with performance deficiencies, such as failing a proficiency check or unsatisfactory performance during flight training. If a similar failure occurs, the airline and pilot will need to take additional steps to demonstrate the pilot's capability.
The rule also calls for enhanced runway safety procedures such as confirming the assigned runway as part of pre-departure briefings and that the correct runway is loaded into the aircraft's flight management system.
Air carriers will have five years to comply with the rule's new pilot training provisions, which the FAA said will allow time for the necessary software updates to be made in flight simulation technology. The cost of the rule to the aviation industry is estimated to be between $274 million and $354 million over nine years, but the Obama administration estimates annual benefits to be twice as much.
The FAA has also invited commercial aviation safety leaders to Washington on Nov. 21 to discuss additional voluntary steps that can be taken to further boost safety during airline operations.