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Audit: FAA needs to give more assistance to smaller carriers for meeting new safety standards
4 February 2013

The Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a report on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) progress and challenges in implementing the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010.

A key element of the act is raising standards in pilot training and performance, as well as advancing voluntary programs that yield critical safety information.

In an audit the OIG found that FAA has made considerable progress implementing many elements of the Act, such as advancing voluntary safety programs, improving pilot rest requirements, and establishing better processes for managing safety risks.
But the OIG also found that the FAA has not sufficiently targeted assistance to smaller air carriers who are furthest behind in developing new safety programs. In addition, FAA faces challenges with meeting timelines for key rulemaking efforts and with developing a long-term strategy for transitioning to a new pilot records database.

Five recommendations were issued to the FAA:

  1. Fully implement the Act-required ASAP and FOQA plan that assists smaller carriers in developing these safety programs.
  2. Determine how many Part 121 pilots currently do not meet the heightened qualification standards required by the Act, and assess the data for the potential impact on FAA and air carrier operations.
  3. Develop and communicate with key stakeholders the status of majormilestones, including the proposed rule, to improve timeliness and accountability for implementing the new Pilot Records Database.
  4. Require inspectors to determine if air carriers have modified policies, in accordance with the Act, to retain pilot records for the new, centralized electronic pilot records database.
  5. In developing the Pilot Records Database, require training records for all unsatisfactory pilot evaluation events to include written comments from the examiner to aid in identifying specific performance deficiencies.

 

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