Lee, Slaughter and Higgins Successful in Pushing For Independent Review of Commercial Airline Pilot Training Programs
Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26), Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28) and Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) announced today that the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’s official watchdog, has accepted their request to conduct a comprehensive review of all commercial airline pilot training and certification programs.
This has been a top priority for Lee, Slaughter and Higgins in the weeks since National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearings revealed a number of troubling findings surrounding the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407, prompting additional public scrutiny of all regional carriers – which account for nearly half of the nation’s commercial flights – and how the FAA regulates them.
The lawmakers first advocated for this review in May as part of an amendment to H.R. 915, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009. With that legislation still pending in the Senate, Lee, Slaughter and Higgins pushed the GAO to begin its work immediately. The agency has responded in a letter stating that it “accepts your request as work within the scope of its authority” and will formally begin its review the weeks to come.
“I am pleased that the GAO has accepted our bipartisan request to initiate a comprehensive review of all commercial airline pilot training and certification programs,” said Congressman Lee. “The results of this review will inform future steps taken by Congress and the FAA to improve pilot training practices and ensure passenger safety and confidence. This is also of course an opportunity to provide more answers for the families of the victims of Flight 3407.”
“There are still too many unanswered questions about the safety of passengers and crew flying on regional airlines,” said Congresswoman Slaughter. “Much of what we learned recently about the regional airline industry training and standards is unacceptable and must be addressed in a timely manner. A full GAO review will help us address these critical issues and ensure the public’s safety when boarding a regional airplane.”
“We owe it to the victims, their families and the general flying public to do everything we can to improve safety and prevent this type of tragedy in the future,” said Congressman Higgins. “I hope through this process we find answers that will better protect passengers moving forward.”
The lawmakers have tasked the GAO with examining the following aspects of all commercial pilot training and certification programs, including regional and commuter air carriers:
• How many training hours are required for pilots operating new aircraft types before assuming pilot in-command duties?
• How do air carriers update and train pilots on new technologies in aircraft types in which they hold certifications?
• What remedial actions are taken in cases of repeated unsatisfactory check-rides by commercial airline pilots?
• What stall warning systems are used in flight simulator training compared to classroom instruction?
• What information is required to be provided by pilots on their job applications and what ability do air carriers have to verify the information provided?