November 05, 2013
Credit: John Croft/Aviation Week
The FAA today issued a final rule that will give airlines and training providers five years to upgrade flight simulators and begin more comprehensive training of pilots for stall and upset incidents, as well as for crosswind and gust events.
The training update, as well as two other recent FAA rules, come as a direct consequence of the crash of a Colgan Air Bombardier Q400 near Buffalo, N.Y., in February 2009, after the captain inappropriately responded to a stall warning system alert. The updates will be included in the FAA’s Part 121 training program and crewmember qualifications rules, which are being released today.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, when announcing the rule change with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in Washington, praised the families of the Colgan Air victims for turning “grief into action.”
“Their advocacy brought new pilot-fatigue rules and pilot qualification rules,” said Foxx. “Today we’re turning the page on another piece of safety rulemaking.” The families were also behind legislation in Congress that guided the FAA in developing key parts of the new rule.
Since the Colgan accident, the FAA has released revised pilot flight and duty regulations to address fatigue issues that will take effect in January as well as newly developed pilot qualification standards that since August have required first officers to generally have 1,500 hr. of flight time and an air transport pilot rating.
Huerta says the training rules, which he described as the “first fundamental rewrite” of training rules in 20 years, will give pilots the most advanced training available to handle emergencies—including upsets—that are extremely rare but can be catastrophic. “They will have the skills and confidence to handle any event,” says Huerta.
Along with recognizing and recovering from full stalls and upsets as well as gusts, the update to Part 121 training rules requires pilots to learn to recover from the loss of airspeed data, an issue in the Air France Flight 447 crash in June 2009.
Huerta says the new rule also requires pilots to spend more time manually flying the aircraft, and will teach the “pilot-monitoring” to better monitor the pilot-flying. In part to address the 2006 wrong-runway takeoff crash of a Comair Bombardier CRJ100 in Lexington, Ky., the rule requires pilots to confirm assigned departure runways in the pre-departure brief, as well as to ensure the proper runway is entered into the aircraft’s flight management system. Most, if not all, of the enhanced training will take place in flight simulators.
Huerta says a companion rule requiring an increase in simulator fidelity to handle the new training scenarios is nearing completion, and is currently “in executive review” at the FAA.