July 31, 2012

After Meeting with FAA Acting Administrator, Gillibrand Renews Call on FAA to Implement New Pilot Training Rule

Pilot Error Identified As Cause Of Flight 3407 Tragedy - Families Of Victims Led Effort To Improve Pilot Training In FAA Overhaul

Washington, D.C. – After meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator earlier this month, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today renewed her call on the FAA to implement new rules for pilot training that were included in the overhauled FAA regulations that Senator Gillibrand worked hard to pass. Pilot error was identified as the cause of the Flight 3407 tragedy – forcing a major push to improve regulations through legislation that the FAA has delayed implementing final rules.  

“Led by the tireless efforts of the families of the Flight 3407 tragedy, we’ve come a long way to improve the safety of America’s aviation system, including some of the most significant advances we’ve made in years,” Senator Gillibrand said following an in-person meeting with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “But we can’t afford to let these improvements sit on the shelves any longer. It’s time to finish what we’ve started, and implement all the rules we wrote into law to improve pilot training, prevent tragedies, and save more lives.” 

The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Extension Act of 2010 set new requirements for crewmember training, particularly in the areas of stall and upset recognition and recovery, and the establishment of remedial training programs. The development of a comprehensive training regimen that reflects real-world situations and gives pilots simulator training in preventing and recovering from aerodynamic stalls and emergencies, training in adverse weather conditions, and remedial training for pilots that have repeated flight test failures will develop pilots with strong manual flying skills and will lead to safer skies.  

Senator Gillibrand’s complete letter to FAA Administrator Huerta:

 

Dear Acting Administrator Huerta, 

            Thank you for taking the time to meet with me recently to discuss several important issues to my constituents in New York.  I appreciated our discussion, and look forward to continuing to work together.

I would like to reiterate the concerns that I raised regarding the delay in issuing a final rule on pilot training, as was required by Congress in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (PL 111-216).  That legislation required a rule to be established by October, 2011, and it is my understanding that your agency does not expect a final rule to be issued until October, 2013, two years late.  Unfortunately, this is not the first time that we have seen a delay in the promulgation of final rulemaking on flight safety, and further delay is simply unacceptable. 

This important safety measure will help to prevent future tragedies similar to the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Clarence Center, New York, on February 12, 2009.  We owe it to the victims and their families, as well as the millions of Americans who travel by air, to ensure that every effort is made to quickly update our federal aviation safety regulations.  While much progress has been made, including the issuance of the new final rule on pilot flight and duty time at the end of last year, but we cannot rest until all of the rulemaking is complete. 

I appreciated your assurances in our meeting that you are making every effort to complete this rule as soon as possible.  I look forward to continuing to work with you on this important issue.