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ATA slams FAA crew training rule change

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) says the US FAA's proposal to update airline pilot, flight attendant, flight engineering and flight dispatcher training has "numerous unworkable aspects, internal conflicts, conflicts with current advisory material and inaccurate assessments of industry standard practices".

The FAA this spring proposed a comprehensive overhaul of its training rules, in part to give pilots the chance to regularly experience "in-flight manoeuvres in upset and disturbance recovery" in simulators, training thought to be lacking in the wake of high profile accidents like the Colgan Air Q400 crash in February. The agency planned to give airlines five years to put the new rules in place once the proposal is finalised, perhaps next year.

In comments to the proposal however, ATA president James May says the changes could "adversely impact current 'best practice' training programmes - a result neither the FAA nor the industry want to see".

"Instead of proceeding directly to a final rule," says May, "ATA recommends that the FAA suspend this rulemaking and immediately convene an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to address the many conflicts and inconsistencies identified in the ATA comments."

May says that "after spending thousands of hours" analysing the proposed rule, training experts from ATA member airlines unanimously concluded that change contain "substantial and material inconsistencies that make it logistically impossible to implement". He says the proposal "seems to abandon the advancements in pilot training programmes that have been instrumental in improving airline safety", including data driven approaches like the advanced qualification program.

"While we appreciate the FAA's desire to quickly adopt new training rules, we believe that the rule as proposed could set the safety clock back by more than a decade," says May.

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