tv [untitled] CSPAN June 20, 2009 5:00pm-5:30pm EDT
crash did not have to happen and was preventable. as such, we are here today and will be here tomorrow and beyond to ask for your help and push for change so that other families can be scared this pain. when my 30-year-old daughter, and athletics fundraiser at princeton university and feature athletic director, purchased per ticket from continental airlines, -- purchased for tickets from counted so airlines, she assumed the pilots would fly that plane were competently trade. she thought they had significant experience and knowledge of the plane and all the flight control features. as she took her seat in 3-a for an exciting valentine weaken to join her boyfriend in buffalo, i am sure that she thought the pilots at the 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 could share from the victims' perspective but time limits will not allow today. the critical message i want to relate to you today is that when the american public buys a ticket from an airline, they assume and expect 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. .
the immediate attention focused on the flight and its crew resulted in a hastily called summit meeting earlier this week, bringing together representatives of the faa and the airline industry to discuss these very same issues. unfortunately, meetings of this magnitude have been done before, resulting in little changed. the costs have always been too high for implementation. the breakdown -- to break down the europe craddick logjam, the families of the victims aren't -- your -- the bureaucratic logjam. 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 the leaks in this dike.
while we are optimistic that the newly appointed administrator here's our pleas for action, we fear that the obstacles thrown up by the airline industry and pilot unions will be very hard to overcome. again, we are asking for congressional intervention. as history of these organizations voluntarily taking action to improve safety has been woefully inadequate. no. 3, ntsb reckitt -- regulations. what are willing to accept an 85% implementation rate of ntsb recommendations by the faa when 100% would save lives? where i even 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 and acted on jointly by the faa and the ntsb. we must learn from accidents so
we can prevent future occurrence. my wife, my son christopher, and lawrence boyfriend, kevin, miss loren every weekend of every day. i will not have the opportunity to what 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 were probably come to an end this year. they will just be too painful to make that trip without lauren. many of my fellow crash victims' families sitting behind me also have similar stories and similar losses.
so now it is up 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. winter is coming. if we do not implement critical safety changes before then, and another accident occurs, we can only blame ourselves for the losses of those families. i do not wish to shoulder the burden, and hope and believe that you agree with me. mr. chairman, ranking members, and all the other aviation committee members, thank you for your time, and i am open also to answer your questions. >> thank you very much. i indicated in the last hearing that i have some discomfort about a good many things here. reading the transcript of the cockpit recording demonstrated
to me a number of errors occurred, a number of deficiencies occurred in the management of that light. that young co-pilot and pilot perished in that accident as well, and they are not here to speak for themselves. they have families to miss them terribly, so i am discomfited by that. and yet, we have no choice but to proceed aggressively to find out what are the standards here , and was this an accident that could have been prevented? had we prevent future accidents in circumstances like this? let me ask a few questions. understanding -- my understanding is that we are hiring pilots to put in the cockpit of commercial airlines with 30, 50, 80, 90 passengers. we are hiring some of them for $10 an hour, is that correct?
>> mr. chairman, the average pay of a regional airline captain is $72,000 per year. the average pay of a first officer at a member airline is $32,000 a year. that is very comparable to other professions that have lines at state, medical assistance, paramedics. rex is a case that we are hiring pilots to put in the cockpit of commercial airplanes and paying them $23,000 a year? that is $10 an hour, roughly. 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 call for patients coming get hard for $10 an hour and then live with their
parents in seattle and fly to do station all night long. at that salary they are going to rent a crash pad to get some sleep? i do not think so. isn't there a significant issue here about experience and funding and salaries at the entry-level on some of these airplanes? the name is the same. we think it is northwest, continental, delta. it is just a different carrier with a completely different standard of hiring new pilots that are entering that cockpit. my wrong about that? >> i think i heard a couple of questions there -- let me just try to expand on a couple of things. compensation and safety are not related. the ntsb has never in all its accident investigations ever sighted compensation are paid as
a causal factor, even a contributing factor, to an aircraft accident. the pay is fair and competitive in a very difficult industry. i am a veteran of that industry, and i will tell you that it is a very difficult industry. the pay and training, the opportunity the person comes into, that they are proficient and well-trained, that we would not put that person in charge of that airplane, in charge of that crew, the safety of that -- we would not if that person or not well trained and prepared. >> this chart shows -- i assume
this is a first that applies to most airlines. that shows newark, and shows the where the pilots are living in order to fly to newark to get to a duty station. you might say it has always been that way, they have to get there and get adequate rest. this case had a pilot that flew all night long to get to do 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. however, i think we have to take a very close look at the system that has created this. you cannot open and closed 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 to get to work.
even if i am based in houston and the company needs me out of newark, they will deadhead me to new york. they will get me to wear i have to start my flight. none of us get into a cockpit believing that we are going to fail that day. everyone of these aviators face the weather, the same weather and the same situation, engines failed, we have emergencies, and our pilots do it. >> but with very different levels of skill and experience, do you agree? >> yes, without a doubt. >> i have very limited time. i am going to stay here and ask all my questions at the end of this. i don't want to abuse my colleagues. the question of pilot records, do you have a problem with having everything to know about
of pilots records? >> i believe the record can be improved. i do think that history and performance is necessary and good, but delicate that as the entire story -- but do not look at that as the entire story. we are constantly going through training and must meet the standards every week, every month, every year. just like when you create an airplane, you tested to destruction. as pilots, we are trained to appoint outside of what we can do. you must push pilots in their training to be able to meet and succeed, but many times that takes a lot of training, more than we are getting today. >> you seem to imply a testimony there were two standards with respect to commercial aviation. one would be the truck or network carriers, and the other would be regional. do you believe there are two standards in the cockpit? >> we have one level of regulation. we do not have one level of safety.
>> do you agree with that? >> i do agree to this extent it is the single standard to which we all must adhere. i don't think there's any question that mainline carriers exceed that 421 base for more often than most. >> but that which exists in law or rule is relevant only to the extent you have a federal agency that says we are are going to force you to on to that rule and enforce it aggressively. do you believe that is the case now? >> i think that we can have greater enforcement, and if the committee and the faa choose, you can even change some of the parameters. we have suggested, as i said in my testimony today, you ought to have focal programs required as part of the base. i think you can use aqp programs
on training. there are a number of issues on pilot records that you can resolve. all of those things can be done to further improve the environment. >> one final point, as i indicated when i started this hearing, i want to invite the folks that run the carriers themselves to come to that table. we have made some invitations, and apparently have not had acceptance of them. >> mr. chairman, you have our commitment. whoever you want, whenever you want, we will provide them. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think we need to get a little more specific. mr. may, i think you mentioning some -- i appreciate you mention specifics with what we can do about training. what i am not hearing today are specific ideas about what do we
need to change to prevent something like this from happening again? there have got to be things that come to mind that we need to change. obviously we have some situations of violating current rules, no sterile cockpit in this particular crash, and the pilots themselves violated rules. we need to make sure that does not happen again. but what we need to do? what did the carriers' need to do? what we need to do from a regulatory perspective, and do we need legislation that the regulators can carry out. what we are looking for is what we can do. mr. may, starting with you, because you mentioned training -- what we need more specifics here of things that can be done to improve safety perhaps that this crash brings to light that we are currently not doing are
not requiring or not auditing. we have so for got a lot of assurances that safety is our main concern, but the reason we are here is that that broke down. i am is looking for some ideas. we need to know if we need to push the regulators to do something different, we need to pass legislation, or do we need to insist on carriers doing something they are not doing? >> center, i think i made barry's -- 7 very specific recommendations in my testimony. i think there needs to be a requirement that regional carriers implement programs that are all fully in use at mainline levels and would make a marked difference if applied at the regional levels. we need to put in a new training standard, if you will.
there is a long open nprm and training at the faa. i think it would be wise for the faa to implement -- take a hard look at aqp programs, advance qualification programs that have been developed by mainline carriers. they could be mentored and transported to regional carriers to improve safety in terms of training. number four, i think you need to take -- direct the faa to take a hard look at how they could better enforce the sterile cockpit rule. we recognize that their privacy issues involved here, but i think there needs to be some kind of monitoring of cockpit tapes on a frequent basis. >> just random auditing?
>> at some point, and ice suspect andprater would acknowledge, as long as we protect the privacy of pilots, that could be done. next, i think you need to have a very specific program promulgated by the faa on records, so that when a carrier goes out to hire an individual pilot, that have access to all of that pilots' records in the same place and in the same format so that they can have a complete look at what has gone on there. finally, i think you need to make sure that we have a very close look at the whole process that is used by the fda to regulate 121 and how many of these issues need to be incorporated in it, or whether i the standard is fine, it just
needs to be an enforcement issue. those are some very specific recommendations. >> i think we need to somehow get that in some joint letter to the faa to make sure we are at least reviewing those recommendations. the other witnesses, do you agree? >> we wholeheartedly support the points that mr. may pointed out. i think the industry, again, one industry, in concurrence on these type of issues -- let me just point out to specific things in addition. this integrated database a pilot records is something that congress can direct the faa to do and to do it immediately, so that the access to this information is readily available to people as we hire.
the better information we have about everybody in the system, the safer it will be. the other issue underscoring the use of c b r's, and as you all talked about in your remarks, it is a tragedy that we are here, and all of the issues that congress and the faa are learning about are from -- in had to be after the tragedy. that is a shame. if there is a tool out there that can be used to help prevent accidents that is getting information about how to prevent accidents before that happened, and we are not even touching it, that is a real tragedy. >> we are talking band-aids here
and we need to look at the system. the thought that somehow we can monitor cockpit voice recorders and somehow improve the safety or the compliance of pilots -- let us focus on the professionalism and the training of those of chairman who do this day in and day out. we are missing something. these air men have been doing their jobs. let's not take this accident and try to say it was caused because pilots were talking in the cockpit. you have to communicate. you have to relate. i am not going to talk brought this one because it is still under investigation and we are analyzing it. you want to improve it? yes. where you learn to become a professional? you learned from the men and women they respect. you break the chain and you keep moving around line, and where you get that experience? all the sudden a new first officer is lined with someone who has only been flying for three years. that would not have happened if
the airlines would not keep pushing flying around the system. it took me 12 years to make captain. that used to be the norm. we went through 12 years or eight years or five years of airline operations. now it is much quicker. >> you object to random reviews of cockpit recordings just to verify that we are keeping sterile cockpits and following other rules? you object to that? >> i don't object as long as it is done in the system like an asap program. if you want to use it to monitor, you will actually create a cockpit that may not be as safe. let's not mistake the sterile -- the estero cockpit means we are focused on flying the airplane at critical points. that is standard. that is what goes on. we are assuming a little bit too much. if it is protected and used as
safety data, then we should be able to find a way to make the system safer, and that is our shared goal. >> just about every service company i call on the telephone now is going to say this call may be audited for quality purposes. you cannot improve which you do not measure. to assume that one time training scheme is going to monitor potential problems over the lifetime of a pilot's is like assuming the same thing for an airplane, so i am a little concerned that you consider that a band aid. do you consider getting -- keeping records of pilots over their career a band-aid? >> are we going to compare apples with apples? which training school did they come out of? you don't want to create a system where you tell them to go to a certain training school
because they will not fail anybody, or do you want them to go to the hardest school out there where they push you to your limits? all these are maneuvers that we must be trained in over and over, whether they are emergencies or back to basic flying skills. so you do not want to create a system that finds a way to get around that. do not create a loophole. >> i would just like to remind everybody, when you are sitting in the passenger section of the plane, again, you are unaware of who is up there on the other side of those stores. is full disclosure to much of a thing to ask when your life is at hand? another comment, the chairman had that chart up there.
my commute to work is 7 miles. members of the senate, and know that you come from a pretty far away, but you have a residence here. you have some place here. perhaps the airline industry needs to consider providing for that kind of thing. if we are going to allow pilots to committees great distances, i happen to travel every other week. it is not uncommon for me to be sitting side by side with pilots who are commuting to their base location. they are tired. unbidden conversations with them all the time. they are tired. those hours to not count toward the critical restrictions. these are things we have to take into account. we large in our accident of long hours that were taken just
getting to work, and then you are going to climb on a plane and fly. let's keep the human element in mind. let's not be defensive. >> i think there was a response to a question by senator dorgan that missed the boat about the relatively modest wage that are paid to people, such as the fellow who flew copilots on that flight 3407. you said it is the kind of pay scale that might be applied in other professions. but i think the point was
missed, because if someone is not making enough money to take care of themselves and their families, it will typically mean a second job, a second opportunity to earn some more money is in the cards. as a consequence, there is more effort, more opportunity for fatigue to creep into the individuals operation. i think when we talk about the profession that might pay $20,000 a year, that is almost minimum wage for any kind of a job, whether it is a janitor or otherwise, bank teller. we have to look at these in real time. at the previous hearing that we held on aviation safety, one of the questions that i raised was
how many times does an inability to pass a test be allowed before it is three strikes, or whatever the number is, and you are out? would anyone here want to go into major surgery, hart, head, whatever, and have a physician there who flaunt his test five times -- who flunked his test before they squeezed him through the operation and put life in his hands? i think there is a point in time were you have to stop and say hey, if you cannot master this in two or three times, then find something else to do. people love to fly. i know a lot of pilots. flying is a glamorous job. i do not know how it is as a
commercial operation when you are sitting in seats to fly back home or otherwise away from home, etc. i think there is a point in time that you say hey, the simulators have -- regulate -- replicate emergency situations. >> very much so. you can really do a good job of training for emergencies. it does not replicate the fact that when you are in an airplane, it is much more three- dimensional. all the force is on you, so sometimes you have to go back to the basic airmanship. to your point, and most of the airlines, that three strikes and you are out is just about the way it works. that is oversimplified, but we have given their men to chances. there is a training review board
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