February 4, 2010
By Sarah Brown
The fatal crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 last February outside Buffalo, N.Y., sent shock waves through the airline industry and beyond: The government’s response to issues brought to light by the crash could change the way general aviation pilots train.
The crash has prompted inquiries into what could have caused the captain to pull aft on the stick shaker instead of pushing forward when it warned of an impending stall, and the FAA has zeroed in on what could be contributing factors in its call-to-action report: fatigue, professionalism, mentoring, and training. To address the latter, the FAA is requesting recommendations to improve pilot qualification and training requirements.
The agency is publishing an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM)—a posting that asks for comments but does not yet propose a regulatory solution—requesting public comment on possible changes to regulations related to commercial pilot certification.
“Even an issue with the airlines can have far-reaching implications for general aviation pilots and flight schools,” said AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman. “The Colgan Air crash has led to proposals for changing pilot training, and the FAA is asking for input.”
The accident focused attention on whether a commercially-rated copilot in Part 121 operations receives adequate training, the advanced NPRM states. The FAA is looking for public comment on four basic topics.
Pilots can submit comments online; by mail at Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590; by fax at 202/493-2251; or by hand-delivery. Comments should be identified by Docket Number FAA-2010-0100. The comment period is open for 60 days.
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The FAA announced Sept. 18 that it would host a “call to action summit” to address the barriers and potential challenges associated with equipping tens of thousands of aircraft for ADS-B, a move welcomed by AOPA.
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