NTSB chief praises new pilot training rules

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairwoman Deborah Hersman praised the Federal Aviation Administration for adopting new rules for pilot training this week.

The FAA said on Tuesday that it was increasing a host of training requirements for pilots that had been sought by relatives of victims of a 2009 Colgan Airlines crash in Buffalo, N.Y.

Hersman said the FAA’s new training rules, which include among other things requiring pilots to conduct flight simulator tests that mirror the engine problems that were experienced by the Colgan Air plane, address “many NTSB safety recommendations.”

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“The Federal Aviation Administration's new pilot training rule addresses many NTSB safety recommendations and when these provisions are implemented, safety will be improved,” Hersman said in a statement. “We applaud Secretary Foxx, Administrator Huerta and the entire FAA team for finalizing this long-awaited rule which addresses recommendations stemming from accidents dating back more than two decades.”

Hersman said the FAA’s new training address more than just the issues that were raised in the Colgan Air crash, which resulted in the death of 50 passengers.

“Among the recommendations addressed in the rule is the oldest open aviation recommendation issued by the NTSB, a 1993 recommendation that asks for simulator training for pilots in using [a traffic collision avoidance system],” she said. “Others recommendations addressed by the rule include training in adverse attitudes, which stemmed from an accident in Colorado Springs in 1991 and was reiterated in numerous accident investigations thereafter.

“The rule addresses recommendations for remedial training for pilots with performance problems, first issued in 2005 from a cargo aircraft accident in Memphis, and problems with recognizing and recovering from aerodynamic stalls, identified in the Colgan crash and many other accidents,” Hersman continued. “In addition, it also deals with the issue of teaching and practicing pilot monitoring skills, which was addressed in 2007 after a crash in Pueblo, Colo., and remains the active subject of recent accident investigations.”

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a blog post on the Department of Transportation’s website on Wednesday that the new rules required pilots to have “the most advanced training available to handle emergencies they may encounter.”

“Air travelers, their loved ones, airlines, pilots, and the men and women here at the Federal Aviation Administration have at least one thing in common: we all want air travel to be as safe as possible,” Huerta said. “And when it comes to the cockpit, we expect our pilots to have extensive training and the skills and confidence to appropriately handle any situation.”