The Colgan Air crash near Buffalo in 2009 continues to cast a shadow over the FAA’s rulemaking, with several legislative measures affecting the industry, according to Leslie Smith, division manager for the agency’s air transportation division, speaking at the National Air Transportation Association’s annual Air Charter Summit in Washington, D.C.
With regard to the recent Congressional mandate that all Part 121 pilots must hold a multi-engine airplane ATP certificate (Advisory Circular 61-138), one Part 135 Citation operator complained during the session that the new rules impose a burden because they present what first-officer applicants hoping to upgrade to captain see as a costly obstacle. The rule calls for pilots to train for several hours in a simulator that represents an aircraft of 40,000 pounds or more to earn an ATP. He wondered why his future captains need to go through the expense of training on an aircraft much larger than any they would operate in his company’s fleet. “Thank Congress,” deadpanned Smith, adding that pilots who did not take the ATP written exam before August 1 will have to meet the more stringent ATP program requirements. John McGraw, NATA’s director of regulatory affairs and a former deputy director of the FAA’s flight standards service, requested that any operators that experience difficulties with implementation of the new rule contact the association so that it can consolidate them and present an argument to the FAA.
Given the role that stall recovery played in the Colgan accident, changes to Part 60 simulator training are in store, according to Smith. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, to be issued possibly as early as next month, seeks to modify training programs and simulators with the latest stall models for fidelity closer to the real aircraft’s behavior. “It has to be implemented into the simulators,” Smith told the audience. “It’s going to take about five years to do them.”
In another development, a newly proposed rule would permit the use of enhanced flight vision systems (EFVS) instead of natural vision to continue descending below 100 feet height above touchdown. The measure is structured to permit EFVS operations in any visibility and support future system development without additional rulemaking. The proposal has gone through the NPRM and comment process, and Smith expects the final rule will be published later this year.