AIN Blog: Regulations Have Consequences

 - December 3, 2012, 7:34 PM
Citation X
Citation X at Santa Monica Airport

A reader recently took me to task for writing that the FAA is reinterpreting Part 135 regulations, in a story about the FAA’s belief that contract charter instructors and check airmen apparently are not complying with the rules. This reader believes that this particular rule is not subject to interpretation and that training school instructors and check airmen have simply not been complying with the rules and that it’s about time the FAA cracked down. Never mind that this could put charter operators out of business or force them to comply by avoiding training altogether—which is legal—and having check rides done by FAA inspectors, or simply conducting training in aircraft instead of simulators.

Now this just isn’t so. The FAA is going to crack down on compliance with the rule, supposedly to improve safety, and in order to comply with that rule, offer incentives for operators to operate less safely.

In other words, the FAA is going to disqualify dozens, maybe hundreds, of experienced instructors and check airmen from training and checking Part 135 pilots because they can’t prove that they meet the requirement to fly as a qualified pilot for a Part 135 operator. This is presumably in the interest of safety, yet no one can point to any breach of safety caused by the current system, where Part 142 instructors and check airmen have been doing their jobs perfectly well while allegedly not meeting the exact letter of the law.

The problem here is not a lack of compliance but a glaring inability of FAA regulations to adapt to the safety and operational needs of changes in the industry. Do we slavishly adhere to rules that don’t make any safety sense?

Some people, including the reader who commented, will answer yes. But let’s consider the consequences.

New FAA regulations attempt to assess the cost of compliance, but how about requiring any new FAA proposal to assess the consequences of the proposed regulations? For example, the consequences of imposing a no-fly zone and Special Flight Rules Area around Washington, DC have been…to catch terrorists? No! The consequences are that many pilots are getting caught and escorted to a landing (adding risk), subjected to questioning and losing their pilot certificates. And airports in the area have lost a ton of business, most notably Reagan Washington National Airport, where the only general aviation operations allowed are corporate jets carrying an armed security officer. If the consequences of this rule actually improved security, I would be all for such a rule. But there is no evidence that security is enhanced.

Does it make sense for independent charter instructors and check airmen to have to undergo all the training required to qualify as a charter pilot for a particular operator? Does this enhance safety? Does it minimize potential adverse consequences? Is there a safety benefit, and can the FAA prove it?


This subject pales when compared to the recent rule barring any credit for previous training of Part 135 Pilots, I know of nothing beyond fuel cost that can have more impact on the cost of operations. Saying a pilot that just had a PC check or even initial training for a given Part 142 school under 135 rules must if he wants to fly for another carrier complete repeat Initial Traing. What a waste of money. The checkrides and 135 flight training administered by a given school varies hardly a wit from one carrier to another if the carrier adapts the checklist and SOP's of the school. To pretend otherwise in utterly stupid.

"no one can point to any breach of safety caused by the current system"

I don't mean to offend or intend any disrespect... I'm just tired of seeing people killed because of stupidity that should have been mitigated/eliminated during air carrier training....

How about these 6 safety breaches which I found in about 15 minutes on the NTSB website:

With the exception of a complete nut-job, it is reasonable to assume that pilots do not intentionally crash airplanes, therefore if a pilot’s actions cause an airplane accident, it must be assumed that the pilot was unaware of the consequences of his/her actions. If a pilot is unaware of the consequences of their actions which cause an accident, then it must be assumed that they were not trained and/or checked effectively. The following air carrier accidents (and remember – air carriers are supposed to be held to a higher standard than GA pilots), illustrate examples where this appears to be the case… All of these accidents involved crew training and/or checking which was performed by a training center…

January 27, 2009
NTSB Number: AAR-11-02
Adopted April 26, 2011
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the flight crew's failure to monitor and maintain a minimum safe airspeed while executing an instrument approach in icing conditions, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall at low altitude. Contributing to the accident were 1) the flight crew's failure to follow published standard operating procedures in response to a flap anomaly, 2) the captain's decision to continue with the unstabilized approach, 3) the flight crew's poor crew resource management...

February 12, 2009
NTSB Number: AAR-10-01
Adopted February 2, 2010
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the captain's inappropriate response to the activation of the stick shaker, which led to an aerodynamic stall from which the airplane did not recover. Contributing to the accident were (1) the flight crew's failure to monitor airspeed in relation to the rising position of the lowspeed cue, (2) the flight crew's failure to adhere to sterile cockpit procedures, (3) the captain's failure to effectively manage the flight...

July 31, 2008
NTSB Number AAR-11/01
Adopted March 15, 2011
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the captain's decision to attempt a go-around late in the landing roll with insufficient runway remaining. Contributing to the accident were (1) the pilots' poor crew coordination and lack of cockpit discipline...

September 19, 2008
NTSB Number AAR-10/02
Adopted April 6, 2010
Probable Cause
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was... the captain's execution of a rejected takeoff (RTO) after V1...

February 2, 2005
NTSB Number AAR-06/04
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the pilots’ failure to ensure the airplane was loaded within weight-and-balance limits and their attempt to take off with the center of gravity well forward of the forward takeoff limit, which prevented the airplane from rotating at the intended rotation speed…

November 28, 2004
NTSB #AAB-06/03
Adopted on May 2, 2006
The Board concludes that the probable cause of this accident was the flight crew's failure to ensure that the airplane’s wings were free of ice or snow contamination that accumulated while the airplane was on the ground, which resulted in an attempted takeoff with upper wing contamination that induced the subsequent stall and collision with the ground...

This issue is just one more that high-lights the FAA's inability to fulfill it's dual role of aviation promoter and safety watch-dog.

All these qualifications rules should be made by the insurance companies. They are much better qualified to demand qualifications based on hard data/actuarial numbers, not endless committee recommendations.

If the insurance companies won't insure, unless there's compliance with their stipulations, they can more effectively ground an operation than the FAA. The insurance companies are much more pragmatic in their approach to such. They have a vested interest in safety.



So if MY company expends the effort, time and money to fully qualify our pilots (because we try to do the right thing), Then our competitors should be able to hire these same people without incurring the costs of qualifying them?!? You ARE kidding me right?

To Joe S. It would be quite easy to have 'Credit for training' attached to a particular pilot and organization, and yet transferable (based on an industry agreed formula) upon a fee paid to the original training company.

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