The Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009

JonnyKnoxville

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US House of Representatives today will unveil legislation that, if passed, will require more stringent screening and training for pilots flying commercial aircraft. The Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009 is being introduced by bipartisan leadership of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the subcommittee on aviation including James Oberstar (D-Minn.), John Mica (R-Fla.), Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) and Thomas Petri (R-Wis.). The proposed law follows a series of Congressional hearings on the February crash of a Colgan Air Q400 that killed 50. A committee spokesperson told ATWOnline yesterday that in addition to improving training and screening for would-be commercial pilots, it would implement recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (ATWOnline, June 25).

by Sandra Arnoult
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JoeMerchant

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This could be good or bad depending on how it is handled...Tougher requirements would be good.....
 

NEDude

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Sad that congress has to step in and do the job the FAA has refused to do for decades. Yes this can be good or bad (or both), but I think this also should serve as a wake up call to congress and others in government that the FAA is failing in its duties. Congress should not have to act on this if the FAA actually cared about safety.
 

Fly-By-Cable

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It certainly would require airlines to appeal to the best and the brightest, MONEY, BETTER WORK RULES. If they can't replace the experienced, educated and competent pilot with somone who just really really wants to fly and has deep pockets to retrain for every certificate, then improvements in our industry are on the way. In my short time in 121 world, I've seen too many sharp folks get pushed into other, more rewarding careers (yes i'm back in school as well). Safety should be placed above all else, but we'll see.
 

JoeMerchant

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Sad that congress has to step in and do the job the FAA has refused to do for decades. Yes this can be good or bad (or both), but I think this also should serve as a wake up call to congress and others in government that the FAA is failing in its duties. Congress should not have to act on this if the FAA actually cared about safety.
I never expect much from the Federal govt....What's really sad is that ALPA has never pushed for this.....
 

Fly-By-Cable

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Sad that congress has to step in and do the job the FAA has refused to do for decades. Yes this can be good or bad (or both), but I think this also should serve as a wake up call to congress and others in government that the FAA is failing in its duties. Congress should not have to act on this if the FAA actually cared about safety.
The problem is that feds, POI's ect. have their own career and progression to worry about. They don't want to stir things up and get labeled as a trouble maker, so to speak. It's an ugly beast. I can think of a few occasions where I had a fed in the jump, showed him my 6 leg/13.5 hr duty day pairing, and got the reaction you would expect. Anything come out of it? NO.
 

NEDude

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I never expect much from the Federal govt....What's really sad is that ALPA has never pushed for this.....
Alpa has too many little fights going on to worry about big things that can have a positive affect on the entire profession.
 

JoeMerchant

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Alpa has too many little fights going on to worry about big things that can have a positive affect on the entire profession.
True dat!
 

ThisistheDream

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Well maybe the Gov't will start to bailout careers to ensure that they will have willing people to go into careers that require higher education and specialized training. With the healh care concerns clinics are saying there are not enough primary care doctors anymore becuase the compensation is not as it once was, so the Gov't ideas is to help repay those future primary care doctors student loans and maybe supplement some extra pay so they will stay as primary doctors..If this happens, then what happens when there are not enough qualified pilots to fly the planes since we all know how much compensation has been lost in this career and now to add to that there will be tougher standards for new airline pilots who where looking to get into this career. Then what about the police officers who say its not worth risking my life for 60k a yr anymore or the teachers who say with so many cutbacks now and having to teach with twice as many kids in the class room say its not worth it anymore for 50k a year..Will they bailout those careers and help repay those student loans ??
 
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Nevets

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You’ve seen issues surrounding regional airline safety raised in the news, on Capitol Hill, and at regulatory agencies. ALPA has been, and will continue to be, front and center in these discussions, representing you as the voice for airline pilots. Today, every voice in Washington, D.C. counts, and nothing says power like all 54,000 ALPA members sending D.C. decision-makers a strong, unified message.

Contact your federal legislators now, during ALPA’s Call to Action on Regional Airline Safety campaign, to deliver messages through emails, letters, and calls that hit legislators from the core—their constituents, the people who vote in their districts.

Use the Call to Action link to send your messages directly to your House and Senate representatives. Choose from messages on pilot fatigue, pilot training, and safety programs, or compose a message of your own. These issues aren’t new to pilots flying the line. You know first-hand the laundry list of items that need attention from the government, our airlines, and the industry.

Congressional Call to Action:
Enhancing Regional Airline Safety


ALPA is working closely with Congress to enhance regional airline safety, including flight and duty time, pilot training and voluntary safety programs. But we need your help!

Members of Congress need to hear from you – their constituents – about these critical issues. Pilots are urged to contact your federal legislators now to deliver ALPA’s message through emails, letters, and calls. Use the Call to Action link at the right (or below) to send your messages. There are three prepared messages or you can compose your own. Please do it now while you’re thinking of it.

For further information about these important matters, continue reading below.

Background

Recently, regional airline safety has been the focus of congressional hearings, regulatory meetings, and intense media coverage. ALPA has been in the center of these discussions, continuing to be the voice for pilots and a preeminent safety resource for federal decision-makers. Other organizations, such as the Regional Airline Association and the Air Transport Association, are already lobbying to promote management’s interest – maximum profit – and are hoping that this issue will just go away.

But we can make sure that our concerns are addressed. We are asking all ALPA pilots to contact their representatives in Washington, D.C., to reinforce Captain Prater’s testimony before Congress:

“The best safety feature of any airplane is a well-trained, well-rested, highly motivated pilot....”

“Regional airlines are now forced to compete to provide a handful of mainline airlines with passengers at the lowest possible cost. In addition, federal regulatory requirements in key areas are woefully outdated, including flight/duty time, minimum hiring standards, and pilot training. As a result, intensifying economic pressure on regional airlines can create a disincentive to advance aviation safety in that segment of the industry.”

FATIGUE/FLIGHT TIME - DUTY TIME [Read more | Take action] Click here for a sample letter.

“Because regional airlines must be extremely cost-competitive to garner business from the major carriers, reducing training as a cost-saving measure can easily result in gaps in a new pilot’s knowledge. Carriers must view training as an investment that pays dividends over time, not a cost to be kept to the bare legal minimum.”

PILOT TRAINING INITIATIVES
[Read more | Take action] Click here for a sample letter.


“Today’s airline industry structure pits regional airlines against one another to secure contracts that allow them to provide passengers to mainline airlines at rock-bottom prices,” continued Prater. “As a result, those express airlines that spend more on safety than the minimum standards require and pay higher wages risk being penalized economically in the marketplace.”

SAFETY PROGRAMS [Read more | Take action] Click here for a sample letter.
 

Nevets

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Regional Airline Safety - Fatigue

Federal rules regulating flight and duty time for airline pilots have not significantly changed in over 60 years, since well before jet transport came into use. Today's pilots fly across multiple time zones, many times a day or night, wreaking havoc on normal circadian rhythms. Pilots are also spending much more time at work each day than the number of hours recorded actually flying an airplane. Federal regulations need to be updated to reflect the realities of flying in the 21st century and improve aviation safety.

To learn more, read ALPA President John Prater's testimony before the Senate Aviation Subcommittee of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, ALPA Testimony on Aviation Safety: The Role and Responsibilities of Commercial Air Carriers and Employees, 6/17/2009.

ALPA must persuade Congress to update the federal regulations for flight and duty time now! To do that, your help is needed at the grassroots level. Let your Members of Congress know how you feel about this critical issue. Contact your Senators and Representative to voice your strong support for updating flight and duty time rules based on sound science and flying in the 21st century.

Sample Letter
I am a regional airline pilot, a member of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), and your constituent. I am very concerned about the conditions which have been brought to light by the NTSB and Congressional hearings following the Colgan Air Flight 3407 accident near Buffalo, NY. While it is a terrible tragedy, hopefully we can learn from the accident.

Pilot fatigue is a serious problem for all airline pilots, but particularly for “regional” airline pilots. We often fly very demanding schedules and perform many more takeoffs and landings than our major airline counterparts. There have been endless studies conducted on fatigue, and the conclusion is simple: Tired pilots do not perform as well in the cockpit. Reflexes, alertness and judgment are all impaired when a pilot is fatigued.

Regional airlines compete for contracts offered by major carriers. Downward pricing pressure is very intense. These contracts are usually short term and are renewed on a continuously revolving basis, so as to keep costs down to the lowest bidder. This is understandable from a business point of view.

However, there is a point where cost pressure is affecting airline safety. In an effort to shave costs and maximize pilot productivity, regional airlines are regularly scheduling flight crews to the minimum rest periods allowed by FAA crew rest regulations. The plain truth is that these regulations have not been changed since the 1940’s and do not adequately address the schedules that regional pilots routinely fly.

The current FAA minimum rest period is 8 hours. That is defined as 8 hours from when the aircraft parking brake is set at night to when the aircraft parking brake is released the next morning. This “rest” period does not take into account waiting for a hotel shuttle, driving to and from the hotel, finding meals, or TSA security screening. It is likely that a pilot might only be asleep for 5 or 6 hours on a rest period such as this.

Please consider supporting a change to the FAA flight time and duty time regulations based on sound science and which take into account circadian rhythms, flight schedules and time zone differences.

Thank you for your interest in air safety. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

 

Nevets

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Regional Airline Safety - Training

Current training practices do not take into account the drastic change in the economics of the commercial airline industry in recent years or the change in pilot applicants' experience. ALPA believes there must be a new focus on standardization of training and fundamental flying skills and core academic proficiency. To meet this challenge, airlines and other training providers must develop methodologies to train for that lack of experience and to train for judgment. Current training practices should also be adjusted to account for the source and experience level of new pilots entering into initial training at their airline.

There should be more stringent academic requirements to obtain both commercial and airline transport pilot ratings in preparation to start a career as an airline pilot. Structured and rigorous ground school and testing procedures for pilots who want to qualify for Part 121 airlines would boost overall aviation safety. Furthermore, airlines should be required to provide specific command and leadership training courses for new captains to instill in them the necessary skills and traits to be a real leader on the flight deck. These skills also take experience, and mentoring programs for both captains and first officers as they enter operations into their new crew positions would help them supplement their own limited experience by learning from their more practiced peers.

ALPA is working at the national level to convince Congress that pilot training should be enhanced. But the participation of ALPA pilots at the grassroots level is essential if we are to succeed. Contact your federal legislators and ask them to support legislation that would enhance pilot training requirements and mandate more experience based training in airline training departments.

Sample Letter
I am a regional airline pilot, a member of the Air Line Pilots Association, and your constituent. I am very concerned about the conditions which have been brought to light by the NTSB hearings following the Colgan Air Flight 3407 accident near Buffalo, NY. While it is a terrible tragedy, perhaps we can learn about the realities surrounding the accident.

Airline pilot training is a serious concern for all airline pilots. A well trained flight crew is the single most important safety asset in commercial aviation. Pilot training should be regarded as an investment in the safety of the flying public. It must take into account the various backgrounds and experience levels of new pilots. Pilot training needs to emphasize meaningful experiences in realistic situations rather than simply performing a list of tasks for a test. Airline pilot training should never be sacrificed for cost-saving measures.

Regional airlines are especially sensitive to this pressure. They compete for contracts offered by major carriers. Downward pricing pressure is very intense. These contracts are usually short term and are renewed on a continuously revolving basis, so as to keep costs down to the lowest bidder. This is understandable from a business point of view.

However, there is a point where cost pressure is affecting airline safety. In an effort to lower costs, the time allowed for pilot training has been steadily shrinking. Airline training departments schedule the minimum possible time to meet only the minimum FAA requirements. Often, pilots are trained to perform a long list of tasks under a compressed timeframe. Extra time spent in the aircraft simulator is discouraged, and the emphasis can often be on passing the test rather than building meaningful experiences.

More realistic training should include responding to surprising or unplanned abnormal events that occur in normal, realistic situations. Much research has already been done to support the effectiveness of this type of training. It is called “Line Oriented Flight Training” and should be greatly expanded in pilot training curriculums.

Pilots learn best by doing and practicing. This requires the time and flexibility to tailor the training to the individual, accounting for differences in backgrounds and experience levels. Unfortunately, most regional airline training departments will not spend the resources on this type of training unless it is mandated by the FAA.

Please consider supporting legislation that would enhance pilot training requirements and mandate more experience based training in airline training departments. I look forward to learning your views on this crucial issue. Thank you for your time and consideration.
 

Nevets

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Regional Airline Safety - Safety Programs

Data collection and analysis programs such as FOQA and ASAP were designed to improve airline operations and enhance safety. When and where these programs are in place and functioning as intended, they provide invaluable information. The information gleaned from these programs can result in improved best practices throughout the industry. In order to allow these programs to grow and make the reports more readily obtainable, additional legislative protections must be put in place that will limit the use of ASAP and FOQA data in civil liability cases. Restrictions also need to be strengthened to ensure the data is used for safety purposes only.

ALPA is working hard to educate Members of Congress about the importance of these safety reporting programs. But they need to hear from you -- their constituents -- as well. Tell your federal legislators that you believe these programs should be strengthened and encouraged at every airline as soon as possible.

Sample Letter
I am a regional airline pilot, a member of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) and your constituent. I am very concerned about the conditions which have been brought to light by the NTSB and Congressional hearings following the Colgan Air Flight 3407 accident near Buffalo, NY. While it is a terrible tragedy, hopefully we can learn from the accident.

An airline’s corporate safety culture, or lack there of, is of great concern to its pilots. It must be centered on safety improvement and preventing accidents. While every airline management will claim to be concerned with safety, often they are distracted by the “bottom line” economics of airline operations. An airline must foster a safety culture that looks for trends and implements safety enhancements that lead to safety improvements. This must be done by encouraging non-punitive employee reporting of safety issues. Currently there are 2 well known and effective pro-active safety reporting programs, ASAP and FOQA. Both can be voluntarily implemented by any airline.

ASAP
The Aviation Safety Action Plan (ASAP) is a low cost program that encourages air carriers and repair station employees to voluntarily report safety information that may be critical to identifying potential precursors to accidents. The majority of these reports are “sole-source” reports meaning that only the employee knows of the event so if the employee did not report then the air carrier would have no other way to learn of the event. The ASAP program protects employees from the imposition of discipline and/or certificate actions in order to encourage these “sole-source” reports..

FOQA
A Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) program routinely collects and analyzes digital flight data gathered during operations. This data can be used to identify trends and abnormal operations which can predict aircraft specific or system wide operational problems in a non-punitive manner.

Please consider supporting legislation that would encourage the reporting of safety issues through these programs by strengthening the protections for reporting employees against disciplinary and certificate actions.

I look forward to hearing from you on this important matter. Thank you for your time and consideration.
 

livin'thesim

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Unless we wash out about 5-10% of the current regional pilot ranks, this will happen again.

There are just too many SJS sufferers out there flying around.

And I really wish people would quit blaming Buffalo on fatigue. This is classic "don't blame the pilot feel good talk."

The crew, and especially the captain royally effed up. People make mistakes. It's about time that as professionals we grow up and admit that one of our own failed at being a proficient airman. Until pilots accept the responsibility for their airmanship we'll have more accidents.

No wonder the government is taking over. The pilots have lost control of their own profession. We are going to have the authority of the PIC reduced further and further until it finally reaches equilibrium with the skill level and professionalism of our weakest members.

Wash 'em out. No one has a right to a 121 career. The flying public deserves our best.
 

piav8r

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Unless we wash out about 5-10% of the current regional pilot ranks, this will happen again.

There are just too many SJS sufferers out there flying around.

And I really wish people would quit blaming Buffalo on fatigue. This is classic "don't blame the pilot feel good talk."

The crew, and especially the captain royally effed up. People make mistakes. It's about time that as professionals we grow up and admit that one of our own failed at being a proficient airman. Until pilots accept the responsibility for their airmanship we'll have more accidents.

No wonder the government is taking over. The pilots have lost control of their own profession. We are going to have the authority of the PIC reduced further and further until it finally reaches equilibrium with the skill level and professionalism of our weakest members.

Wash 'em out. No one has a right to a 121 career. The flying public deserves our best.
Problem is the flying public doesn't want our best. They want the best that shopping at WalMart/Sam's Club or ordering off the dollar menu at McDonald's will get them...
 

brokeflyer

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Funny how no one "shops" around for the best deal on heart surgeons..

When they stop hiring low timers and start paying for real pro's, I see more accidents coming.

You get what you pay for.
 

PeanuckleCRJ

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Funny how no one "shops" around for the best deal on heart surgeons..

When they stop hiring low timers and start paying for real pro's, I see more accidents coming.

You get what you pay for.

It's because the flying public considers us (still) overpaid button pushers.

I was sitting on a plane the other day deadheading from SLC in uniform. Some dumbass walks by and goes "I guess we're safe if something goes wrong since we've got a back up pilot."

His friend behind him goes "ah it doesnt matter, the computers do everything including the landing themselves."

Idiots. I guess they forgot that even if computers are doing the job- whoever is pressing the buttons had better be pressing the right buttons at the right time.
 

another cfii

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In the last 20 or so years, the flying public has been generally acknowledging that airline pilots from the PanAm/TWA days are at the pinnacle of their professions. Back then there's no such thing as a regional feed to a hub, and pilots flying a DC3 is the same as the next pilot who flies a DC10 across the pond. To them, we all receive the same training, are capable of flying in every airplane known to man. We, as pilots, basically, were invincible.

Now the bureaucrats in Washington have several accidents on their hands and they feel the need to do something. The feds has known this kind of problems for a long time, and yet nothing was done. It's truly too bad it has to wait until they investigate this latest accident in BUF and highlighting pilot fatigue as a probable cause. I'd say that's only 1% right, because our whole industry from the hiring practice, to pilot training, to scheduling needs an overhaul. It may have worked in 20 years ago, but it truly needs to change before another bad accident happens.
 
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