The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), recently announced a new, final rule that is designed to address pilot error – the leading cause of aviation disasters – in commercial airline crashes, which typically are the most catastrophic of all aviation accidents.
This new commercial airline pilot training rule largely is in response to a 2009 fatal airplane disaster. A commuter airplane approaching the Buffalo, NY airport in a snow storm crashed, killing all 49 passengers on board and one person on the ground. The National Transportation Safety Board ruled the cause of the crash to be pilot error. The pilot did not respond correctly when the plane began to stall.
The new rule is the most significant update to pilot training in many years. It includes:
· Better ground and flight training for pilots that is geared specifically toward enabling pilots to recover from stalls
· Tracking of commercial pilots who show deficiencies during flight training
· Training for more effective pilot monitoring
· Expanded crosswind training, including training for wind gusts
· Enhanced runway safety procedures
In addition to these new mandatory commercial pilot training procedures, the FAA will be meeting later this month with other experts in commercial aviation safety to discuss additional voluntary steps to address and avoid pilot error situations.
According to the FAA, the new rule is expected to cost the nation’s commercial aviation industry as much as $350 million. However, it also estimates the benefits to be about $690 million.
The FAA did not detail how it arrived at the benefit dollar amount. But to those who lost loved ones in fatal airplane accidents, the loss is overwhelming. Hopefully, better training will lead to less catastrophic aviation accidents. Another key action to keeping airlines focused on preventing accidents is to hold them and their employees accountable for the devastating damages resulting from aviation crashes.