Training! Training! Training!

Saturday, December 7, 2013
By George Hatcher

The NTSB was discussing safety measures in late October, especially pilot training before stalls. The new rule has been a long time coming. Earl Weener, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, talked about the serious history of pilots wrongly pulling the plane’s nose up till the plane fell to the ground. If training is part of the problem, then at least that is a lack that can be amended.

Only twenty-six percent of pilots train for high altitude stalls, but according to a NASA study, twenty-eight percent of stalls are high altitude stalls. Seventy-one percent of stalls happen while autopilot is on.

In early November we heard how the FAA unveiled a rule about pilot training to avoid stalling airliners. It came about because of four crashes: Those crashes were Colgan 3407 in 2009, Air France 447 in June 2009, Pinnacle Airlines 3701 in October 2004 and USAir 427 in September 1994. (Too bad there have to be stall issues before stall training came to the attention of officials.) In the February 2009 crash of Colgan Air, it was determined that the pilots–as in the three other flights–in the midst of a blizzard in Buffalo pulled up on the nose of the plane, causing the crash. A meeting of air safety leaders in late November has jump-started the plans. Though something that has taken so long in the works can hardly said to be jump—started.

The powers that be sound positive about the new rule.

The FAA speculates training will save nearly seven million because of prevention—at a program cost of $274 million. Within five years this will mean:

  • Better ground and flight recovery training
  • Better pilot flight monitoring each other
  • Better runway safety protocols
  • Better crosswind training.

I have been beating a drum for a long time about obvious solutions to obvious problems. Yes, things may fail, but why not implement preventative measures where available? So now rather than my usual battle-cry: Maintenance! Maintenance! Maintenance! Maybe I will be saying Training! Training! Training! I am looking forward to increased safety brought about by this new rule.

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