Industry foes delay aviation safety law, government watchdog reports
WASHINGTON — Faced with substantial industry opposition, federal regulators are struggling to implement a sweeping aviation safety law enacted after the last fatal U.S. airline crash nearly four years ago, according to a report by a government watchdog.
The Federal Aviation Administration is experiencing lengthy delays in putting in place rules required by the law to increase the amount of experience necessary to be an airline pilot, provide more realistic pilot training and create a program in which experienced captains mentor less experienced first officers, according to the report by the Department of Transportation's Inspector General. The report was obtained by The Associated Press.
The FAA is also running into problems in creating a centralized electronic database that airlines can check prior to hiring pilots, the report stated. The database is supposed to include pilots' performance on past tests of flying skills.
In each case, the agency has run into significant opposition from the airline industry, the report said.
“To effectively implement these initiatives in a timely manner, (the) FAA must balance industry concerns with a sustained commitment to oversight,” the report stated.
Congress passed the law a year and a half after the Feb. 12, 2009, crash of a regional airliner near Buffalo that killed all 49 people aboard and a man on the ground. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the accident highlighted weaknesses in pilot training, tiring work schedules, lengthy commutes and relatively low experience levels for pilots at some regional carriers.
The accident was due to an incorrect response by the flight's captain to two key safety systems, causing an aerodynamic stall that sent the plane plummeting into a house below, the NTSB investigation concluded.
“The law is only as strong as the regulations that come from it, so this (implementation) process is the true measuring stick of how this law will ultimately be viewed,” said Kevin Kuwik, spokesman for a group of family members of victims killed in the crash.
The family members lobbied relentlessly for passage of the safety law. Kuwik lost his girlfriend, 30-year-old Lorin Maurer, in the accident.
Driven by the accident and the new safety law, the FAA substantially revised its rules governing pilot work schedules to better ensure pilots are rested when they fly. It was the first modification of the rules since 1985 and “a significant achievement” for the FAA, the report stated.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Defense chief says U.S. can fly over South China Sea
- Cleanup begins from deadly flooding in Texas amid continuing rain
- Lawyer argues in New York court that chimpanzees have same rights as humans
- IRS believes identity thieves are from Russia
- Growth potential remains for online gambling
- Worries mount of unleashed ‘Taliban 5’
- Army lab sent at least 1 live batch of anthrax
- Charged Baltimore officers seek change of venue
- Shootings, slayings surge during Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, Baltimore
- Administration finalizes, defends broader regulations under Clean Water Act
- Dems tell DHS to end family detention