As the anniversary of the Feb. 12, 2009 crash near Buffalo, N.Y., of a Bombardier Q400 regional airliner operated by Colgan Air fast approaches, the U.S. government still hasn’t issued proposed new rules governing fatigue for Part 121 pilots.
Colgan Air Flight
• In January 2006, two pilots flying an American Eagle Saab 340 out of San Luis County Regional Airport in San Luis Obispo, Calif., nearly lost control after the autopilot shut off during icing conditions on climb-out. The Saab 340 lost 5,000 feet during the recovery.
Ever since the crash of American Eagle Flight 4184 (an ATR 72) in Roselawn, Ind., on Oct. 31, 1994, the NTSB has been recommending that the FAA enact a new rule that the Board believes might have prevented these accidents. As a result of the crash of Flight 4184, the NTSB recommended that the FAA “prohibit the use of the autopilot” during encounters with icing conditions.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed sweeping legislation last month that could profoundly affect how regional airlines do business. H.R. 3371, the Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009, passed the House by a vote of 409 to 11.
The pilots of the Northwest Airlines Flight 188 that overflew Minneapolis on October 21 told NTSB investigators that a distraction in the cockpit of their Airbus A320 led to the incident, not a “heated discussion,” as reported by the Safety Board last Thursday.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt urged an audience gathered for last month’s Air Line Pilots Association Air Safety Forum to read the CVR transcripts from Colgan Air Flight 3407 as a lesson in how professionalism–or lack thereof–in the cockpit might influence the outcome of an emergency. Babbitt avoided projecting any conclusions of his own, but his speech centered on an unambiguous message to the veteran pilots in attendance.
While praising the FAA’s establishment of an Aviation Rulemaking Committee in response to the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407, the European Cockpit Association (ECA) blasted its own rulemaking authorities for “shying away” from acting on conclusions from a study that purportedly exposes current EU fatigue rules as insufficient.
With the FAA getting ready to take another run at flight, duty and rest regulations, Part 135 operators want to assure that their segment of the aviation industry is not included with Part 121 commercial airlines.
Following congressional hearings last month on the February crash of a twin-engine turboprop near Buffalo, N.Y., senior officials from U.S. airlines, pilot unions and the FAA agreed in a closed-door meeting June 15 to several major actions to improve safety programs and pilot training at the nation’s airlines.
The Senate on May 21 confirmed former Air Line Pilots Association president Randy Babbitt as the next FAA Administrator for a five-year term. During his nomination hearing, several senators referenced the February 12 crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 near Buffalo, N.Y., and asked him about fatigue and crew training for regional airline pilots.