Challenges For The FAA In Responding To The Airline Safety Act
By Eddy Metcalf
March 21, 2012 - On Tuesday the Inspector General
testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation
Operations, Safety, and Security regarding the Federal
Aviation Administration’s (FAA) commercial airline
Specifically, the Inspector General focused on FAA’s implementation of the 2010 Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act, emphasizing: (1) FAA’s progress in responding to provisions of the Act; (2) the challenges FAA faces in implementing certain provisions; and (3) concerns related to achieving the full measure of safety enhancements intended by the Act.
The Inspector General noted that FAA has made important progress related to key Act requirements, such as strengthening pilot rest requirements and advancing programs for managing safety risks.
FAA has yet to implement Act provisions related to pilot
training, professional development, and qualifications, due in
large part to industry concerns.
The Agency also faces challenges in establishing a pilot
records database to enhance carriers' screening process for
addition, FAA needs to assist smaller carriers in developing and
managing the safety programs called for in the Act to fully
realize the benefits of increased safety reporting and trend
Act included 16 provisions to improve airline safety and pilot
training with milestones spread over a 3-year period. The Act
called for advanced standards for pilots, including required
rulemaking activities for training programs, crewmember
screening and qualifications, and new fatigue regulations to
improve passenger safety.
rulemaking activities are complex, and some have encountered
significant air carrier opposition. In addition to notice and
comment periods required by law, the FAA must conduct detailed
analyses of each rule’s likely effects and coordinate with
stakeholders. The Act also included several important
initiatives that FAA did not complete during its Call to Action
on Airline Safety.
Unlike the old
rules which included different rest requirements for domestic,
international, and unscheduled flights the new regulations establish one
set of rules that are based on scientific factors, such as the time of
day pilots begin their first flight, the number of scheduled flight
segments, and the number of time zones crossed.
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