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Major pilot training changes on way

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By Gannett News Service
Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 9:12 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration announced a rule on Tuesday to require more training for commercial pilots to avoid and recover from stalls that can lead to crashes.

The rule grew out of the Colgan Air 3407 crash in February 2009, which killed 50 people. The pilots in that crash continued to pull up too much on the nose of the plane while preparing to land in a snowstorm near Buffalo, which allowed the plane to plummet to the ground.

The rule is projected to cost airlines $274 million to $354 million to implement from 2019 to 2028, according to the FAA. But airlines will save $689 million by preventing or mitigating crashes that result from the rare problem, according to the agency.

Although the rule took nearly five years to develop, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said it was the biggest update in pilot training in 20 years.

“It's been a very large effort at the FAA for a very long time,” Huerta said. “It's a huge advance for aviation safety.”

Huerta said the pivotal rule would give the country the most advanced training. The rule requires within five years:

• Better ground and flight training that enables pilots to prevent and recover from stalls.

• Training for pilots to better monitor the performance of each other.

• Enhanced runway safety procedures.

• Expanded crosswind training.

Huerta said he planned to meet Nov. 21 with airline safety leaders to develop voluntary training for pilots beyond what the rule requires.

“Today's rule is a significant advancement for aviation safety and U.S. pilot training,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.

Mary Ellen Mellett, whose 34-year-old son Coleman of East Brunswick, N.J., died in the crash, said the rule met expectations of families who appreciated the agency's work.

“This is a bright and shining day for us,” Mellett said through tears. “The airline industry will be better for it.”

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