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FAA to add “safety-critical” crew, flight attendant and dispatch training

The US Federal Aviation Administration today published a 689-page proposed rule to require airlines to supply “safety-critical” training to pilots, flight attendants and dispatchers, an action the agency says will make “a significant contribution” to its accident reduction goal.”

Included in notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) are “special hazard” flight simulator training requirements for pilots to help with persistent loss-of-control (LOC) and controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) issues in the industry. Also present is a requirement to perform line-oriented flight training (LOFT) in full-flight simulators as well as to demonstrate runway safety techniques such as ensuring the correct runway is selected for takeoff.

For flight attendants, the new rules include completing “hands on” performance drills using emergency equipment annually and qualifying for various aircraft types based on operating experience.

The FAA plans to allow airlines five years from the date the rule becomes final, after a planned public comment phase for the preliminary rule, to put the new training programs in place.

“This rulemaking is part of the FAA’s efforts to reduce fatal accidents in which human error was a major contributing cause,” the FAA writes. The agency cites a US National Transportation Safety Board statistic that human error was a major contributing factor in “a large percentage” of the fatal accidents at US air carriers from 1987 through 1996.

Further, the NTSB found that inadequate training, whether due to incomplete manuals, lack of stabilized approaches below 500ft (152m), turbulence and thunderstorms or other factors, was the probable cause of 169 airline industry accidents resulting in 988 fatalities, 250 serious injuries and “significant damage” or complete hull loss of the aircraft involved.

“We believe that many of these accidents could have been prevented if the proposed training initiatives were in place during that 20yr period,” the FAA writes. The NPRM was developed in part with input from a government-industry aviation rulemaking committee established in 2004.

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