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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 18, 2009 8:00am-8:30am EDT

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in this, as in previous accidents, it is the authority of source for making that determination and recommending corrective action. in addition the department of transportation's inspector general recently began an assessment of federal aviation administration oversight certification, pilot qualification training and other issues, in response to your very direct inquiry. when this review was announced we offered our resources and full cooperation to the inspector general, his evaluation and instructive suggestions that we know will result from it, will augment the ntsb's effort. finally, the faa's call to action held on monday is a broad based initiative to look at safety initiation including those raised at this morning's hearing. we attended multiple
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representatives, and were impressed by the participantss focus on concrete issues and their understanding of the need for prompt solutions. we look forward to being engaged with the faa and other interested stakeholders. i don't believe any topic should be off the table in the call to action. we need to have a full and frank discussion about safety and the factors that contribute to it. there are disparities between main line and regional safety programs. if so, they should be closed and closed quickly. let me address steps that need to be pursued today. first, we need to apply operational quality assurance programs used by major carriers to regional airlines, the collection and analysis of data, improve safety. apply the aviation safety action programs which encourage
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voluntary recording and safety issues and events that come to the attention of employees, those regional airlines that don't currently have such a program. third, identify advanced training, best practices of mainline carriers to be used by regional carriers. it is an a u p program in the majority. we need a centralized database of pilot records to give airlines easy access to complete information about applicants from the time the -- they begin their flying career. fifth, let's see if the faa needs to increase compliance with the sterile cockpit rule and what measures it should use to do that. 6, let's examine flight crew preparedness when pilots report to work. this means looking at crewmember commuting. if this means examining flight duty time issues, that is perfectly appropriate, but tied it to the commuting side of that equation. as long as any examination is
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based on science, not anecdote. each of these initiatives can and should be achieved in short order. we are looking forward to working with this committee, the faa, the ntsb, it in as cooperative a fashion as possible. i will be pleased to answer any questions. >> thank you very much. next, we would hear from mr. cohen. mr. cohen, you may proceed. >> chairman dorgan and members of the subcommittee, i am roger cohen, president of the regional airline association. i want to express our deepest sympathies to the lives of the passengers and crew of flight 3407 that were lost, and for the families affected by the crash. we deeply share in their grief. i also want to express today not only for our member airlines but for our 60,000 highly trained professionals, our total,
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unwavering commitment to safety. as we work towards ensuring this, let's make sure this post accident process does not have to be repeated. we will take whatever steps are necessary so that our flight crews and our aircraft are as safe as humanly possible. the safety of our nation's skies is a shared responsibility. at monday's faa summit, 5 of our regional airline ceos joined with federal agencies, major airlines, and union representatives to candidly explore all of the issues making headlines over these past few months. regional airlines have but one objective, and that is to prevent any future accidents. as we do that, it is important to keep our perspective and
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reassure the american public that flying is extremely safe. until this recent tragedy, commercial airlines have gone along as period in aviation history without a fatal accident. working collectively, rolling up our sleeves with all parties, government, labour, manufacturers, airlines have steadily improved our safety record over the course of many decades of safety initiatives, investigations and reviews of accidents and incidents, large and small. nevertheless, we can and must do better. our industry's number one goal has been and always will be zero accidents and zero fatalities. at your request, our member airlines provided the committee detailed information about their operations, their training, they're hiring, their employees. today, we will try to better define the regional airline
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industry to clear up some of the misconceptions. more importantly, we will talk about the steps that regional airlines have already taken and the actions we plan to take to further focus our total commitment to safety and accident prevention. our airplanes typically carry 100 passengers. more than 50% of all of the scheduled airline passenger flights in the united states are on regional airlines, and most notably, 3 out -- three out of every four regional airports are served exclusively by regional airlines. our airline, as you indicated, largely operates in seamless partnership with major airlines. regional airlines provide the crew and the aircraft, major airlines said the flight schedules, fareset the flight schedules, fares and customer
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service policy. they operated a single system, one ticket, one trip, one safety standard. all passenger airlines are subject to the exact same faa safety standards and requirements. it has been this way for more than a decade. our goal is to prevent accidents, and that is why we are earnestly and eagerly supporting the faa's call to action and why the regional airline association has embarked on our own strategic safety initiative to underscore our safety culture and prevent accidents. this strategic safety initiative has four elements -- first, bringing together our safety professionals review all of the procedures and address any issues that could even be perceived as a contributing factor to an accident. second, we will conduct a thorough review, looking out all
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of the human factors in the scientific field to minimize the risks associated with fatigue. third, we will implement a fatigued awareness management program so that our airlines keep this issue top of the mind for our flight crews and just as importantly, airline management. fourth, we will reach out in partnership with you in congress, across the government, and to our fellow stakeholders in labor and throughout the aviation industry, to explore the full range of issues to which the help us improve safety and prevent future accidentss and among those are number one, establish a single, integrated faa database of pilot records. second, explore random fatigue testing, third, examine the practice of commuting. fourth, extend the period for background checks from five to ten years, and fifth, c to
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analyze the information from cockpit voice recorders in settings other than accident investigations. and mine all this tremendous data to look for trends to help prevent future accidents. mr. chairman, the regional airline association thanks you for the opportunity to testify today, and for opening the dialogue on these critical issues. we will look forward to keeping you informed and i welcome any questions you might have. >> thank you for your testimony, next we will appear from captain john prater, president the airline pilots association. >> we commend this committee for calling this hearing to look a critical issues affecting airline pilots and our charges. many of these issues, pilot training and hiring standards, training and mentoring, were at the top of the agenda at the faa's call to action summit in
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which we participated on monday. this meeting was a critical first step toward developing solutions to these problems, we encourage the faa to take a more structured approach in working with the airline and labor to establish an agreed to implementation plan for all parties to adopt. in recent years, we have to look more at the system. the major airlines have come to rely heavily on cochair arrangements with the so-called regional airlines to connect large, mid-size, and small cities in the u.s. canada, and mexico, to the international -- this has resulted in the exponential growth of the regional sector of the industry. still, the carriers exert a great deal, almost total pressure on the regional airlines to provide their services at the lowest possible price. take control ticket pricing and schedules and they regularly move flying between the regional
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partners. this exacerbates breaking the chain of pilot experience. couple that with 160 or more bankruptcies in the industry, and airline pilots were bleeding in the industry because there's no way to protect and retain that experience in the cockpit. we start over again and again. some of the major airlines even today are outsourcing their flying to the regionals and lay off their own pilots, losing decades of experience to the profession. these experienced pilots cannot afford to work for one of these so-called regional carriers as a newly hired first officer. as a result, many of the smaller regional carriers hire pilots near the minimum standards and do not employ adequate screening processes that identified the ideal candidate. as was brought up during the ntsb as regent -- recent hearing of the tragic accident in buffalo, many pilots are not getting adequate training or
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enough rest. airlines are requiring pilots to work longer days and more of them each month. frequent changes are forcing pilots to decide between commuting or taking another haircut to train on new equipment. the consequences, the quality of airline pilot careers has been greatly diminished and and the severe erosion of benefits and quality of life are motivating experienced aviators to move to other professions. current training practices do not take into account the drastic change in pilot applicants's experience. they assume pilots are far more experienced than they may actually be. there must be a new focus on standardization and even fundamental flying skills. to meet this challenge, airlines and other providers must develop methodologies to train for that lack of experience and train for judgment.
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current training practices need to be adjusted to account for the experience level of that new pilot and into initial training with his or her airlines. there should also be more stringent academic requirements to obtain both commercial and airline transport pilot ratings in preparation to start a career as an airline pilot. the faa should develop and implement a structured, rigorous ground school and testing procedures for pilots who want to qualified to fly for airlines. and airlines should provide specific command and the bishop training courses for new capt. to instill in them the necessary skills and trades to be a real leader on the flight deck. airlines should implement entering programs for captains and first officers as they enter operations for their new crew positions to help them apply the knowledge and skills to line operations from their more
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experienced peers. flight experience and by the capabilities cannot be measured by mere flight hours. we must remember that each and every pilot out there today has met the faa standards, hazmat and trained and exceeded the standards of their airline which is responsible for certifying them. turning to another area of concern. for 2 decades you have heard me and my predecessors speak about the problem of pilot fatigue. it is time, we need to address those rules and we need to change them. other means to enhance safety and improve airline operations, we agree with mr. make, data collection and analysis programs, we need to share that information across the industry and modify our practices to make sure the best practices are being used by the entire finely of airlines. to make these reports more readily understandable, additional legislative protection will be needed to
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limit the use of data in civil liability cases and to insure the information is used to increase safety. the best safety device on any airplane is a well-trained, well rested, highly motivated pilot. a strong safety culture must be instilled and consistently reinforced from the highest levels within an airline and among its cochair regional partners. thank you for the opportunity to address you. i will be happy to take any questions. >> thank you very much, captain of the 11. now we will hear from scott mauer, a representative of the families of continental flight 37. mr. mauer, your daughter, lauren, was a passenger on that flight and it is likely difficult for you to speak publicly on these issues. on behalf of the families, you want an opportunity to do that and i am pleased to give you
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that opportunity. >> i like to thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. my name is scott mauer. my daughter, lori mauer was a passenger on continental flight 3407. tomorrow night at 10:17, it will be 18 weeks since our lives were changed forever. the minutes, hours, days and weeks that have passed since this tragedy have been an unbelievable nightmare for all of us. is a pain that you will never know, and one that we hope no one else will face. we believe very strongly the crash did not have to happen, and was preventable. as such, we are here today and we will be here tomorrow and beyond to ask for your help and
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push for change so that other families can be scared this pain. when my 3-year-old daughter, lori maurer, purchased hurt ticket from continental airlines, she assumed the pilots who would fly that plane were competently trained. she thought they had significant experience and knowledge of the plane and all the flight control features. as she took her seat for an exciting valentine weekend in buffalo, she assumed the pilots that controls had been trained to handle cold weather flight conditions, stalls and other emergency situations that all pilots are expected to be prepared to confront. there are many other examples i can share from the victim's perspective, the time limits will not allow them to day. the critical message i do want
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to relate to you today is that when the american public buy the ticket from an airline, they assume and expect that safety, that their safety is in good hands. sadly, we find that is not always the case and we are here today imploring you for assistance and action. how can you help? number one, let's put the best pilots in the pocket and set them up for success. this sounds very simple but in reality, it takes money to do this and the airline industry has not stepped up to the plate. pilot hiring procedures, training, fatigue management and compensation have all been discussed throughout these hearings. the media attention focused on the failures of kogan air and its flight crew focus on a hastily called emergency summit meeting earlier this week, bringing together representatives of the faa and
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the airline industry to discuss these very same issues. unfortunately, meetings of this magnitude have been done before, resulting in little changed. as the costs have always been too high for implementation. to break down the bureaucratic logjam, the families of the victims are now forced to ask congress to intervene and do the right thing for public safety. number 2, better aviation oversight by the federal government. americans believe that the role of the faa is that of a gatekeeper, an agency that is technically trained and expertly qualified to watch over the airline industry for the safety of the american public. we have certainly identified leaks in this dike. we are optimistic that the newly appointed administrator here's our pleas for action, we fear the obstacles thrown up by the airline industry and pilot
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union's will be very hard to overcome. we are asking for congressional intervention. the history of these organizations voluntarily taking action has been willfully inadequate. number 3, ntsb recommendations, while we willing to accept and 85% implementation rate of ntsb recommendations by the fda when 100% would save lives? would i be sitting here talking to you today had previous recommendations for training and cold weather flight management been acted on? these recommendations must be taken seriously. acted on jointly by the faa and the ntsb. we must learn from accidents so we can prevent future occurrences. my wife, terry, my son, christopher, and lauren's
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boyfriend, kevin, miss loren every minute of every day. i will not have the opportunity to walk my daughter down the aisle and give her away in marriage. she will not experience the joy of a growing child within and raising a loving family as we did. our traditional christmas eve visit to new york city for some last-minute shopping and taking in mass at st. patrick's cathedral will probably come to an end this year, it will be too painful to make that trip without lauren. many of my fave -- fellow crash victims' families sitting behind me have similar stories and similar losses. so now it is up for you to make a difference. everyone in this room today and those who were here last wednesday expressed that they had come before you to make the necessary changes in safety.
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winter is coming. if we do not implement critical safety changes before then and another accident occurs, we can only blame ourselves for losses of those families. i do not wish to shoulder that burden, and hope and believe that you agree with me. mr. chairman, ranking member senator demint, thank you for your time, and i am open to answer any questions. >> thank you very much, mr. maurer. i have some discomfort about a good many things here, reading the transcript of the cockpit recording demonstrated to me a number of errors, a number of deficiencies occurred in the management of that fight. i also said the young co-pilot
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and co-pilot perished in that accident as well and they are not here to speak for themselves. they have families who miss them terribly. i am discomfited by that, and yet we have no choice but to proceed aggressively to find out, what are the standards here? are these accidents, was there an accident that could have been prevented? how do we prevent future accidentss and circumstances like this? let me ask a few questions. my understanding to mr. mayer and mr. kogan, we are hiring pilots to put in a pocket of commercial airlineairlines, 30, passengers, for $10 an hour.
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>> the average pay is $72,000 a year. the average pay of a first officer is thirty-two thousand dollars a year. that is very comparable to other professions that have lives at stake, medical assistance. >> is it the case that we are hiring pilots to put in the cockpit of commercial airplanes and paying them $22,000 a year? $10 an hour roughly? isn't that the case? if that is the case, one wonders, what is the capability of pilots that are coming out of school with a good many hours and meet the technical qualifications, get hired for $10 an hour and live with their parents in seattle and fly to a duty station all night long? at that salary, are they going to rent a hotel to get some sleep? i don't think so. my specific question, isn't
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there a significant issue here about experience and funding and salaries at the entry level on some of these airplanes where all of us are getting on, the name is the same, we think it is northwest, continental, delta, a different carrier with a completely different standard of hiring new pilots entering that cockpit. am i wrong about that? >> mr. chairman, i think i heard a couple questions, let me try to expand on a couple things. most importantly, compensation and safety are not related. the ntsb has never, in all of its accident investigations, have recited compensation or pay as a causal factor, even a contributing factor to and aircraft accident. the pay is fair and competitive
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in a very difficult industry. i am a veteran of that industry and i will tell you that, as captain prater pointed out, it is a very difficult industry. the hand training, first time opportunity, that person comes into, that they are proficient, that they are well trained, that we would not hurt that person in charge of that airplane, in charge of that crew, we would not, if that person were not well trained and prepared. >> we do have a chart. let me ask a question of captain prater. this chart shows a committee for kogan airlines, but i estimate applies to people all over the country flying to their duty station, it shows the pilots, where they're living in order to
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fly to get to duty station. does that make any sense to you, captain prater? you might say it always needs to be that way, they need adequate rest and so on but this case had a co-pilot who flew all night long to get to her duty station. does that make sense? >> it makes sense and i would agree with you that that represents the reality of our air transportation system and our pilots. we have to take a very close look at the system that has created this. you can't open and close domiciles on a regular basis and transfer flying and lay off pilots at one airline and not give them some ability to either move to their new station or get to work. even if i am based in houston and the company needs me out of newark, they will send me to where i should start my flight.
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there is a huge responsibility that professional aviators take very near and dear. none of us get into a pocket believing we are going to fail at day. everyone of these aviators face the weather, the same weather, the same situation, engines fail, we have emergencies, and our pilots do it. >> but with different levels of skill and experience. do you agree? >> yes, without a doubt. >> i have very limited time. i am going to ask all my questions at the end of this. i don't want to abuse my colleagues. the question of pilot records, captain prater, if we know everything on an airplane, potential employers should know everything about pilot's record? >> i believe the record act can be improved. i do think history and import -- performance is necessary and could, but don't look at that in -- as the entire story.
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we are constantly going through training and must meet the standards every month, every week, every year. just like when you create an airplane, you test it to destruction. as pilots we are trained to appoint outside what we do. we must find our limits, you must push pilots in their training to be able to meat and succeed but many times that takes a lot of training, more than we are getting today. >> you seem to imply there were two standards with respect to commercial aviation. the network characters and the regional. the you believe there are 2 standards? >> i will say it succinctly. we have one level of regulation, we do not have one level of safety. >> different levels of enforcement. they you agree with that, mr. may? >> i agree to this extent. 121 is the single stad


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