NATA urges mandate for single-pilot CRM

 - September 2, 2009, 11:50 AM

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is strongly recommending that the FAA include CRM training for single-pilot operations as part of its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on crew resource management for Part 135 crewmembers.

While there is a plethora of CRM-related information available from the FAA and commercial sources, at this time little or none of it is designed to consider the application of training in the single-pilot environment, according to the association.

In its NPRM released on May 1, the FAA identified three accidents– two of them single-pilot–that it said illustrate the critical need to require CRM training in both single- and dual-pilot Part 135 operations. “These three accidents were all the result of poor decision making, a loss of situational awareness, a lack of communication between multiple pilots or between pilots and other key operational personnel and inadequate leadership,” the NPRM said.

NATA’s comments on the CRM NPRM generally supported the proposal to incorporate formal CRM training for Part 135, but cautioned the agency about several areas that could create difficulties for smaller operators. Specifically, the association called on the FAA to provide a standard program for single-pilot operators to adopt and asked the agency to minimize inspector delays in approving programs or defining CRM training program content.

Mandatory CRM training for both single- and dual-pilot operations was a recommendation from the Part 125/135 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) of which NATA was a member. 

“CRM has long been applied only to aircraft operations with multiple pilots,” NATA said. “However, the ARC members strongly believed that the communications, equipment management and organizational principles of CRM would also hold significant benefits for the single pilot who is solely responsible for managing all aspects of flight.”

The association expressed concern about the level of support the smaller operators, particularly single-pilot, will receive from the FAA. “These operators are overwhelmingly small businesses and more likely than larger operators to conduct all pilot training in house,” NATA maintained. “Therefore, it is critical to ensure that they are provided with meaningful guidance to assist them in starting their CRM training program.”