Babbitt: "We Want To Make Sure We're Not Just Checking
Senior officials from US airlines,
pilot unions and the FAA have reportedly agreed on several major
actions to improve safety programs and pilot training at the
nation's airlines. SecTrans Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy
Babbitt (pictured right) hosted the "Call to Action" to identify
immediate steps to strengthen and improve pilot hiring, training
and testing practices at airlines that provide regional service as
well as at the country's major air carriers.
"We must inspire confidence in every traveler, every time he or
she steps onto an airplane," said Transportation Secretary Ray
LaHood. "We are acting now and acting together because safety is
our highest priority."
The participants agreed on best practices for pilot record
checks that would result in a more expansive search for all records
available from a pilot's career. The expanded search would include
all the records the FAA maintains on pilots in addition to the
records airlines already receive from past employers.
The airlines and unions will also review existing pilot training
programs over the next several months, according to FAA-issued
guidance, to see how they can be strengthened.
"We want to make sure we're not just checking boxes,"
Administrator Babbitt said. "There's a real difference between the
quantity of training and the quality of training."
Airline and union officials recommended developing pilot
mentoring programs that will expose less experienced pilots to the
safety culture and professional standards practiced by more senior
pilots. The programs could pair experienced pilots from the major
airlines with pilots from their regional airline partners.
To address concerns about pilot
fatigue, Babbitt said the FAA will start rulemaking to rewrite the
rules for pilot flight and duty time to incorporate recent
scientific research about the factors that lead to fatigue.
Babbitt added that he will ask all of the airlines to operate
safety reporting systems such as Flight Operations Quality
Assurance (FOQA) and the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) to
provide better data about safety issues.
FAA and industry representatives agreed to hold as many as 10
similar meetings throughout the country to assure that every
carrier and pilot union has the opportunity to commit to these
actions and to identify additional best practices that can be
shared. FAA inspectors will assist in the implementation of these
actions over the next several months and evaluate their