Thu, Jun 25, 2009
10 Regional Safety Forums To Be Held
Randy Babbitt Wednesday announced an expedited review of flight and
rest rules and called on U.S. airlines and unions to respond, by
July 31, with specific commitments to strengthen safety at regional
and major airlines by insisting that airlines obtain all available
FAA pilot records, among other actions.
On June 15, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Babbitt
met with airline safety executives and pilot unions to strategize
on how best to reduce risk at regional airlines while promoting
best practices from major airlines.
"We know that the airline industry is committed to operate at the
highest level of safety," Babbitt said. "Now is the time to push
these initiatives forward."
The FAA is making pilot fatigue a high priority and will work
rapidly to develop and implement a new flight time and rest rule
based on fatigue science and a review of international approaches
to the issue. By July 15, the agency will establish an Aviation
Rulemaking Committee (ARC) - including FAA, labor and industry
representatives - that will be charged with developing
recommendations for an FAA rule by September 1.
Also by July 15, FAA inspectors will complete a focused review of
airline procedures for identifying and tracking pilots who fail
evaluations or demonstrate a repetitive need for additional
training. Inspectors will conduct additional inspections to
validate that the airline's training and qualification programs
meet regulatory standards in accordance with FAA guidance
In a letter dated June 24, Babbitt (pictured) urged all air
carriers to immediately adopt a policy to ensure that their pilot
applicants release any records held by the FAA to the hiring air
carrier while the agency works with Congress to update the current
Pilot Records Improvement Act of 1996. Further, the FAA expects all
carriers who do not currently have Flight Operations Quality
Assurance (FOQA) and Aviation Safety Action Programs in place to do
Beginning next month, the FAA and industry will hold at least 10
regional safety forums throughout the nation to open a dialogue
with as many airlines as possible, solidifying commitments to the
actions identified in the Call to Action meeting, and to discuss
additional best practices.
The FAA expects airlines that have contractual relationships with
regional feeder companies to develop specific programs to share
safety data and ensure that their partner airlines mirror their
most effective safety practices.
"We will work closely with Congress on all of these actions and
will provide any necessary technical assistance," Babbitt said.
Earlier this year, the FAA proposed upgraded training standards
for pilots, flight attendants and dispatchers. The proposal is the
most comprehensive upgrade in FAA training requirements in 20 years
and incorporates best industry practices. The rule aims to enhance
traditional training programs by requiring additional simulator
recurrent training, special hazard training, and additional
training and practice in the use of Crew Resource Management (CRM)
principles, as examples. The comment period closes August 10 and
the FAA expects to promptly develop a final rule.
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