Says Agency Faces 'Challenges' In Implementing The 2010 Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act
At a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security regarding the FAA's commercial airline safety oversight, the Department of Transportation's Inspector General said the FAA still faces challenges in implementing the 2010 Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act.
Specifically, the Inspector General focused on the FAA’s progress in responding to provisions of the Act, and pointed out the challenges FAA faces in implementing certain provisions, as well as concerns related to achieving the full measure of safety enhancements intended by the Act. The Inspector General noted that FAA has made important progress related to key Act requirements, such as strengthening pilot rest requirements and advancing programs for managing safety risks.
However, FAA has yet to implement Act provisions related to pilot training, professional development, and qualifications, due in large part to industry concerns, the IG said. The Agency also faces challenges in establishing a pilot records database to enhance carriers' screening process for pilot applicants. In addition, FAA needs to assist smaller carriers in developing and managing the safety programs called for in the Act to fully realize the benefits of increased safety reporting and trend analyses.
In his prepared remarks, Committee Chair John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-WV) (pictured) said "Overall, the FAA’s progress in meeting the goals of the “Safety Act” has been positive. The requirements and timeframes mandated by the legislation are ambitious and demanding, and some in the industry were concerned the agency may have been set up for failure. To the FAA’s credit, however, they have fulfilled many of the provisions mandated by the 'Safety Act'. I think it is fair to say that the public has been impressed with how much the FAA has accomplished in just 17 months.
"Still, much work remains to be completed by both the agency and the industry. Some critical deadlines have been missed, particularly the rulemaking on revising pilot training standards. Even with the issuance of new regulations, the FAA and the industry will have to work hard to make certain they are implemented properly. There has also been controversy regarding the cargo industry’s exemption from the new flight and duty rules that the FAA finalized in December.
"In the past few years we have witnessed other safety failures in our aviation system. Issues have been identified regarding the oversight of airline maintenance, lapses by air traffic controllers, runway incursions, and operational errors. The FAA took quick action to address problems in all these areas, and Congress followed up with additional measures in the FAA reauthorization bill that recently passed. I am closely following the agency’s efforts to address these issues and their broader efforts to improve the safety of the air transportation system."