tv [untitled] CSPAN June 12, 2009 3:00pm-3:30pm EDT
february 12, 2009 at 715 pm colgan air flight 3407 bombardier -- thank you 400 crashed off of niagara airport in buffalo in new york it is operating as a part flight from newark new jersey. four crew members and 45 passengers were killed. of the aircraft destroyed by eight impact and afire one person in a house was killed and two individuals escaped the house with minor injuries. . .
the ntsb has issued numerous recommendations to the faa on stall training, pie lit records, a remedial training, situational awareness, pilots monitoring skills, low airs ditto alert systems, a pilot professionalism and fatigue as well as aircraft icing. two of the series, aircraft icing in human fatigue are on the boards most >> while there are currently more than 450 open recommendations to the faa, on january 12 of this year, the faa took action on some of those
recommendations when it published a notice of proposed rulemaking. >> race in numerous safety recommendations, the issue that we issued to the faa. in 1995 the ntsb issued recommendations for the faa to require an airline to evaluate an applicant pilots experience, skills and ability before hiring the individual. the following year congress enacted islet records improvement act. that came in 1996 and required any company hiring a pilot for air transportation, request and receive records from any organization that it previously employed the pilot in the previous five years.
however, it does not require an airline to update faa records of failed flight checks. the board is recognized that additional data contained in faa records, including records of flight check failures and rechecks would be very beneficial for a potential employer to review and evaluate. therefore, in 2005 the ntsb issued another recommendation to the faa, to require airlines when considering an applicant for pilot positions to perform a complete review of the faa airman records. including any notices of disapproval for flight checks. in response to the ntsb's recommendation, the faa stated that notices of disapproval for flight checks for certificates and rating are not among the records explicitly required by priya of 1996, and therefore demand that their carriers update such notices would require rulemaking or changed in itself. to the credit of the faa, november 7 of november and
advisory circular was issued in forming carriers that they can ask pilots to sign a consent form giving the carrier access to any notices of disapproval for the recommendation is currently classified open acceptable alternative response. however, today the faa has not taken any rulemaking action over after congress to modify the act. mr. chairman, this concludes my testimony. i will be glad to answer any questions at the appropriate time. >> thank you very much. finally we will hear from john o'brien who is of the board member of the flight safety foundation. mr. o'brien, we are pleased to hear your entire statement be part of the record if you will summarize. >> thank you, mr. chairman. chairman dorgan, senator demint, members of the committee take you for the opportunity to appear before you today. we commend you and chairman for focusing on these critical safety topics. we submitted a register statement and i will summarize.
i am here today representing the flight safety foundation. i also speak you as a pilot who has served for 22 years as a director of engineering and air safety. although i don't speak, more than 50 accident investigation so these issues are near and dear to my heart. a flight safety foundation was founded 60 years ago. at a neutral to share information, ideas and best practices for safety. today we represent over 1000 organizations from 142 nations. as of the committee requested our testimony is focused on specific measures that may be appropriate to improve pilot training, prevent errors from fatigue and address aircraft icing hazard. and after sometime i would like to highlight for the committee to topics that need particular attention to these topics cut across all the committee's issues. violas and most vulnerable aviation safety to his accident investigation. these investigations identify causes that lead to findings and recommendation. objective investigations will
always be an essential part of the air safety equation. but today they are only part of the more complex picture. today there's a management approach that can do more. the technique is a systems approach to aviation safety. a safety management system. this system will allow the faa to carry out its inspection and oversight responsibilities any much more effectively and way and allow the operators to also assure that they are complying with the regulatory requirements. aviation safety professionals now have a much more work with which they can adopt a more proactive safety management approach. they can identify risks and prioritize action by collecting and analyzing data from many different sources. study show that this type of data can give us hundreds of warnings before an accident occurs. by protecting this data and acting on it early, lives are saved. safety data is an invaluable commodity. but it did, the consequences can be catastrophic. we cannot go back to a time when
the only safety data that was purchased at the cost of human life. in wake of recent judicial decisions or disclosure of voluntary supply safety information, and the use of accident investigation report in civil litigation and criminal prosecutions around the world, we believe there is a need for legislative protection against the release of use and voluntary self disclose reporting programs. we are calling for the creation of a legislative, qualified exception. from discovery of voluntary disclosed reporting programs similar to that which is provided in u.s. law against discovery and use of cockpit and field service for recording and transcript are the foundation recommends legislative protection of such information against disclosure in any judicial proceedings, except that the court may allow limited discovery if it decides the requesting party has demonstrated a unique need for the information and that the party will not receive a fair trial absent the information. in the event any discover is permitted, the foundation
encourages that it only be made available for the party under a protective order and not made generally to the public. we believe this is just later for the safety data is actually necessary and will save lives. with regard to the issues of pilot training, fatigue and anti-icing programs, including those raised by the golden crash, we would strongly commend the faa's call for action this week with one comment. we said just that faa re-examine the report described in our submission for the record. this report contains discussions and recommendations on the aspects of pilot training and qualifications beyond pilot training and qualification. the faa might want to investigate while aircraft countermeasures training modules described in our written testimony concerning aircraft icing and fatigue have not produced the results that they were intended. thank you very much for allowing us an opportunity to testify before you today. i will happy to take any of your
questions. >> mr. o'brien, thank you very much for your testimony. mr. babbitt, my understanding is that an airplane, a commercial airplane, 8737, dc-9, perhaps an airbus 320, the airplane has a record somewhere and everything that has gone wrong or all the maintenance, all the work that's been done that airplane has been recorded so someone can go to that record and see everything that exists about that airplane since its birth, is that correct? >> that is correct. >> is the same true of the pilot, the person in the cockpit of an airplane? is it possible to find all the information that you might want to find about the human factor in that plane? whether a pilot passed or failed a multi-engine rating, commercial license, instrument rating. so the reason i ask that question is a pilot that has been described here had i believed by failures in various exams, and i believe the carrier
did not know that. so if you go toward everything that is to know about an airplane, why do we not at this point have a central repository of everything that is to know about a pilot's records? >> yes, sir. at does shine a little light on an area that we really have to look at. currently the records exist. i think the issue that surrounds the concern is that they exist in two different places. any checkride, any testing that was done, written or otherwise, with the faa, is recorded by the faa. however, when a pilot goes to work for an airline, if he's receiving routine training, whether it's upgrade, transition, recurrent training, line checks, those records are not reported to the faa but instead they are maintained by the carrier. and i think it was alluded to here by some of the other witnesses that perhaps we better take another look at how we join or provide access so that everyone can determine that information. >> but they are not easy leap available and i think someone
which said the pilot had to sign a waiver in which case the employee company said the goes back five years and gets what records exist, and it seems to me that we need to fix that and fix that soon. because there's no reason to know everything that you can know about airplane but not the pilot that flying the airplane. i would like to ask a question about commuting, if i might, and the issue of the key. i want to put up a chart that i understand i think is an ntsb chart that shows -- this happens to be cold air pilot. probably not different than most carrier. i will ask you about that, mr. babbitt. this is called in air commuting to the north base to begin work. you see that they live in one part of the country and commute to their duty station in newark and then get on an airplane to fly. and the issue of fatigue has been cited by some as a potential significant issue here.
perhaps in that cockpit, both the pilot and copilot were affected by fatigue issues. with this chart with different if we were talking about another commuter or a trunk carrier? is this unusual, mr. babbitt? >> no, sir. one of the issues that comes forward, it should be interesting to note for the record, that colgan was a relatively new provider, capacity sale of their seats and service. to cottonelle airlines, and enhance the reason they are committing an train commuting to newark. the same carrier could sign an agreement, you know, six months from now and be commuting to memphis. and so the pilots often don't move immediately. underline that, there are regulations. the regulations are enforced that require the look back as far as their airline duty is concerned. there is no reference the pilot has an obligation, a professional obligation to show
up rested just like everyone else going to work the. >> i'm a lot less interested in what regulations are enforced versus how regulations are enforced. and i would ask this question. mr. o'brien, is it your sense that we have one level of safety as between commuters in trunk carriers these days reqs. >> it certainly is the goal. [inaudible] >> there certainly is a goal. everybody is aware of. the ability to obtain this goal is still being sought after very diligently. however, there's work to be done in this area. >> mr. scovel, your impression. >> mr. chairman i don't believe we do. one level of colgan. >> excreta, one level of safety has been code within the aviation industry and among stakeholders to describe the mood of regional air carriers. in 1995. you mentioned earlier that an
american gets aboard an aircraft in this country and have to pay a ticket, and understand that that aircraft is subject to faa regulation, he or she could reasonably think that the level of safety would be the same no matter what aircraft or what carrier. yet that's not entirely true. >> if that's the case, mr. rosenker, it is i assume a fact that the major carriers in this country have an enormous stake in the records of commuters because they painted airplanes with their colors and their name, and consumers often aren't able to make a distinction or don't make a distinction whether they are on the commuter or the main carrier. do you think that what has happened is we have migrated to standards and if so, is that not contrary to the interest of the major carriers? >> i don't believe, mr. chairman, we have migrated. what i do believe is, as other
witnesses have indicated, we are looking to achieve one level of safety. and that is a high level of safety. in fairness, about 50%, perhaps a little more, of the air passengers based excuse me, the air miles for flights that are made are done by the commuter carriers. we want to make a safe industry, and overall as you indicated in your introduction, we enjoy a very safe aviation industry in the united states. the objective is to raise that even higher. not only with the regional carrier, but the major carrier as well. we just recently investigated two, two major air carrier accidents. one in december, one in january. where we lost the entire hall of the aircraft. thank goodness no one got hurt. everyone got off. we are looking one with our partners, our counterparts in france right now where the
outcome was not as successful. >> my time is about a. i want to say that i have read all that i can read about this particular accident in buffalo, and i know that we put, you know, we put a magnifying glass on this and look at every part of it. but i was stunned, frankly, learning what i learned. and i wondered, is this a complete anomaly? is a just happenstance that in this cockpit, below 10000 feet, insignificant icing conditions there was discussion about careers and career choices and things that deal with i think what you mentioned professionalism, clearly that was not what the requirements would be at that point. and the amount of time and equipment. the compensation paid to the pilots. the fatigue of potentially both
what appears to be an inappropriate response to control that gave them a appropriate warning. i mean, a whole series of things, and you look at that and you think, this is a stunning set of failures. is it just something that is byzantine and unusual to that cockpit? or is this a harbinger of something that is much broader and that we ought to be very concerned about? that's why, mr. babbitt, you assume the reins of an agency that is very, very important. and you have flown these airplanes. i mean, you had a career as a pilot. and we are going to rely on you in the future hearings to help steer us to the right conclusions here, and i appreciate very much of the work of the ntsb and we're going to have a lot of information from the inspector general to be very helpful to us as we proceed. so let me thank all of the witnesses. let me call and senator wattenberg. >> thanks, mr. chairman. >> as we listened to the
testimony and review of the matters that got us to this point, a concern, an investigation. and we see that the captain of the colgan flight had several test failures, i ask, mr. abbott, how many strikes put you out? should there be a measure their assess, look, if we have to squeeze you through the test, what are you going to do when the pressure is on? i think there ought to be some finite limit that says, look, if you can't get through in a couple of turns, you're not fit for this kind of post. what you, you think? >> senator, that's an excellent question. let me address it if you indulge me for a second. there are a couple things to look at here. number one, alleged unfair regulations require and his carriers standards require a level of proficiency. people are human. they have a bad day, and you can
have a situation where a pilot, a good but takes an excellent checkride. i've had situations of my own career taking a checkride in parallel with someone and watch someone that i knew was a good pilot who didn't feel well, had no business taking the check. failed it. is that grounds to terminate their career? >> well, what nasa say if you want to go up in a show, they give you a bunch of turns, times to pass a test? >> i hope not. alwyn onto that we would take a pilot, the particular element that they failed and we would train them to proficiency. i think there's another human aspect that we have to look at your if we had whatever the number is, one strike, two strikes, three strikes and you're out, remember the art jackpot. we have someone who is getting another pilot a checkride just a training jet pilot, and now somebody else's career is in my hands. if i fail this pilot, that's the
end of their career. my concern would be, you might have the wrong reaction. that someone instead of saying you busted his portion, go back, get trained, come back when you get this right as opposed to, you know what, i'm not going to end his career. >> mr. babbitt, i have great respect for you and the others at the table, but i would say this to you. i would read it in his career and have my wife and my children on that airplane, i can tell you that. so i think these are things that we saw with the brilliance of captain soldier who took that plane down past my apartment building by the way on the river. i wasn't home that day. but, you know, how do we know that the react time, that the training is sufficient as the captain did on the united plane,
saved over 150 lives. and the thing i think, that picture of them standing on that wing will go down in history as an icon of what safety is about. >> i wanted to add one other point. and your point is a good one and i appreciate that, but there are mechanisms. this is one of the reasons we are bringing everybody together we have carriers today that have good practices where they have training review boards. and we at the faa you would look at to think. is a particular pilot showing or exhibiting a an excessive failure rate and a short training program, maybe the training program itself based. >> i would rather take a chance to. >> well that what you have to do is training review boards at some of the carriers, and i think what you are going to see us move toward is maybe everybody should be doing that. maybe the review, if one particular pilot is failing over and over again, that's not acceptable. and i think we do need to deal with that. >> yeah, is there any concern
about the population in the towers, you know, newark for instance. required 36 fully trained controllers in the power we have to wait six or 27, seven of them are controlled in training. as we all know, we have a fantastic aviation system. we have lots of brilliant people doing things, but we don't have enough. and if you were to go into the operating room with a radiologist short, you wouldn't say that's good for the patient. are we concerned enough, mr. administrator, that we have enough people to take care of the needs presently and the
perspective retirements that are right in front of a? >> appreciating that i am relatively new on the job, i certainly have been looking into this. i will say that everyone start a job somewhere as a rookie. and in a way that's handled whether it's in the cockpit, every pilot makes a first flight and he goes with a trained -- training captain with him. every controller, at some point, is going to pick up a microphone for the first time and control traffic. and standing next to him is going to be a fully trained -- only qualified controller watching him and mentoring him as he learns. but everybody has to start in the training program. so yes, sir., there may be sometimes and some conditions where there is a training controller. but the provisions are there that there is always a fully trained controller with him or in the case of the cockpit,. >> i don't want to put too much pressure on your learning curve in a short period of time, but this question i will be asking
repeatedly until we get the answer i want stack hopefully i will be able to say desser, they are altering our. >> the recent reports suggest that the faa ignored warnings in 2008 from one of its safety inspectors over the same type of airplane that crashed in buffalo earlier this year. and it's also said that this perspective may have been retaliated against for raising these concerns. now, once again, i know you are new there but you are an experienced person of aviation. what might we do to prevent -- what would you recommend that we do to prevent intimidation of whistleblowers and blocking their point of view? >> interestingly, i was you might recall a member of the irt which was a special committee appointed a former secretary peters. and we look into some of these cases, and what we found and
that board had by the way a former chairman of the ntsb. we had a number of safety expert on that panel. we looked into this particular allegation. at the time it was simply an allegation about the conduct and the retaliation. i was reasonably convince as a member of the committee that the faa took appropriate action. i wasn't with the faa then. we were critiquing the faa, and it was pursued. it was pursued by the ig and it seemed to us at a time that it was handled in accordance with what we should do. having said that, i will tell you that i want to make sure that those procedures, there were a number of steps set forth in that report. and i want to make certain that those steps are followed, that we do actively pursue and make certain that no one is subject to retaliation, or is ever inhibited from raising a safety questions without fear of reprisal. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thank you. >> mr. lautenberg, thank you very much.
>> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. babbitt, we have tremendous confidence in you. i was very impressed with our meeting before your confirmation and appreciate you taking on this responsibility. you certainly have the record and the training to be a quality administrator of the faa. smack that you, sir. >> my understanding is faa requires that all pilots have adequate rest before they fly, is that correct? yes, sir. >> they are the ones that certify that, is that correct? yes, sir. >> in the case of flight that crashed, as i understand it, the pilot had commuted that day from tampa, florida, and had slept in a pilot lounge and there was no record of an accommodation. and that the copilot had flown from seattle to memphis to newark before they flew as -- didn't fly as a pilot but as a passenger, before they flew on
the flight that ended up crashing in buffalo. i think the chairman asked a very -- has a grafter that shows the number of commuters commuting into newark and in fly out, and from what i understand it, being with hartsfield atlanta, how many pilots commute to atlanta and then take their flights. should there be some requirements on the time in the air whether you're flying as a passenger to get to the flight that you are going to fly as a pilot or copilot? >> i would make the observation that when we pulled his industry group together, we might want to look at that. i will tell you for my own personal experience, i had over 20 years of lines long and i commuted myself for five of those years. but i took it upon myself to go off the night before and get a good nights rest. now, i was like for a major airline. economic circumstances might be different. but the professionalism, and that's another reason why we are pulling people in. there seems to be some gap. this type of thing doesn't go on
in the major carriers, and i think the semantic here we talk about one level of safety. there is in fact one standard of safety. and that's the federal regulations. however, we are seeing them at some levels, people far surpassing that with either their own inspired professionalism or the carrier. in the case of some of the carriers may have remarkably good training programs. and that's what we are going to try to do is glean from that is their better practices out there, is there a better way. currently all the regulations do is ensure that the pilot is rested when he's on duty. we have to define duty and we'd have to find rest. when someone comes back from vacation, we don't know how much rest they got the day before they came in, but that's true in every profession. so we have depended upon and perhaps unfortunately, but we had depended upon the professionalism of the pilot to show up rested and ready for work he has an obligation to exercise the privileges of his
airmen certificate, or hers, that he is obligated to do that. we need to make sure they take that seriously. >> your answer on what you impose on yourself was very responsible, and i would venture to say it was probably partially ingrained into you in the corporate culture that you flew for in the corporation that your income is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> i don't want to make any indictment, but if you have to pilot and plane that crashed, both of whom commuted within the same toy for hours to get to the flight that they then flew, it might not be as the chairman said an anomaly that could be a part of the cold untrimmed culture that there was a little less restriction approach on the part of the corporation, that might be true with another airline. would that be a fair statement to make? the professionalism certainly wasn't being pushed from the top down, and one of the things that we are going to to look at and when we talked, i mentioned mentoring, you know, from the major carriers. i happen to