Sir - The reported comment of the UK Civil Aviation Authority in the article "Pilots can expect harder tests, CAA warns" (Flight International, 19-25 March, P31), to the effect that European Joint Aviation Requirements will demand higher academic standards for flightcrew licensing, is another symptom of how this body is out of touch with reality. We have been faced with one of the worst accident years yet and the response is academic.
More than 1,000 lives were lost in air-transport accidents in 1996. The fact that many of these incidents involved state-of-the-art equipment and resulted from basic errors of handling or situational awareness is tragic, and should give cause for thought.
Airmanship has always been - and, despite technology, still is - a practical business, best learned by good basic training, followed by apprenticeship.
There is a need for a fundamental review of the standards required for the granting of an air transport pilots licence. Practical standards of training, both for initial issue and maintenance of the licence, are as crucial as (if not more important than) the academic.
There is a glaring need, too, for a fresh commitment on standards for International Civil Aviation Organisation contracting states. Giving the international body some teeth may be a start, but the European Joint Aviation Authorities may find that some of its members are the first to be bitten.
Capt JOHN RABY
Source: Flight International