Posted by Travel Sentry
In response to the deadly commuter airline crash in New York last year, new legislation was approved Friday to increase U.S. aviation safety measures. The new bill, The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, sailed through Congress with little debate last week. Obama signed the bill into law yesterday.
The safety measures apply to all U.S. airlines and revises and toughens rules governing pilots. The new regulations require airlines to hire more experienced pilots and places responsibility on the airline to continue pilot training. There is also an overhaul of rules governing schedules to avoid pilot fatigue.
The bill also extends through September 30, 2010, authorities of the FAA (AGAIN – this is the proverbial can that continually gets kicked down the road!) as well as extending the ability of the FAA to collect fuel and ticket taxes.
Below is an Executive Summary of The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 from the GOP:
Airport and Airway Extension:
The bill extends through September 30, 2010, the authorities granted to the FAA, including the collection of fuel and ticket taxes that fund the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. In addition, the bill extends the FAA’s authority to make project grants for an additional two months, through September 30:
• $9,350,028,000 for FAA operations;
• $2,936,203,000 for air navigation facilities and equipment;
• $190,500,000 for research, engineering and development.
Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement:
Pilot Record Database:
The bill requires the FAA to initiate the creation of a pilot records database within 90 days of the measures enactment. The database would enable airlines seeking to hire a prospective pilot immediate, electronic access to a pilots flying record.
The bill requires the FAA to maintain a records database only for hiring purposes. Information in the database should include the pilot’s license, medical certificates, aircraft ratings, check rides, notices of disapproval, other flight proficiency tests, and state motor vehicle driving records. The FAA would issue regulations to protect and secure the personal privacy of any individual, and would require airlines to seek written consent from such individual before accessing the records.
The bill authorized $6 million for FY2010 through FY2013 to establish, and carry out the databases.
FAA Task Force on Air Carrier Safety and Pilot Training:
The bill requires the Administrator of the FAA to establish a special task force to be known as the FAA Task Force on Air Carrier Safety and Pilot Training. The task force shall consist of members appointed by the Administrator and shall include air carrier representatives, labor union representatives, and aviation safety experts with knowledge of foreign and domestic regulatory requirements for flight crew member education and training.
Aviation Safety Inspectors and Operational Research Analysis:
No later than 9 months after the date of enactment of this act, the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation shall conduct a review of the aviation safety inspectors and operational research analysts of the FAA, and submit to the Administrator of the FAA a report on the results of the review.
Flight Crewmember Mentoring, Professional Development, and Leadership:
The Administrator of the FAA shall convene an aviation rulemaking committee to develop procedures for establishing flight crewmember mentoring programs for newly employed flight crewmembers, establish flight crewmember professional development committees, establish training programs to accommodate different levels of flight experience, and leadership and command training.
Implementation of NTSB Flight Crewmember Training Recommendation:
The bill directs the Department of Transportation to provide Congress with an annual report on each NTSB recommendation pertaining to commercial airlines. The report would detail the action contemplated in response to each recommendation.
FAA Rulemaking on Training Programs:
No later than 14 months after the date of this enactment of this act, the Administrator of the FAA shall issue a final rule with respect to the notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register on January 12, 2009. In addition, no later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall convene a multidisciplinary expert panel comprised of, at a minimum, air carrier representatives, training facility representatives, instructional design experts, aircraft manufacturers, safety organization representatives, and labor union representatives.
Disclosure of Air Carriers Operating Flights for Tickets Sold for Air Transportation:
It shall be deemed as unfair or deceptive practice for any ticket agent, air carrier, foreign air carrier, or other person offering to sell tickets for air transportation on a flight of an air carrier to fail to disclose, whether verbally in oral communication or in writing, prior to the purchase of a ticket.
Safety Inspections of Regional Air Carriers:
The Administrator of the FAA shall perform, not less frequently than once each year, random, onsite inspections of air carriers that provide air transportation pursuant to a contract to ensure that air carriers are complying with applicable safety standards of the Administration.
The Administrator of the FAA shall issue regulations, based on the best available scientific information, to specify limitations on the hours of flight and duty time allowed for pilots to address problems relating to pilot fatigue.
Voluntary Safety Programs:
The bill requires the FAA to issue a report, no later than 180 days after the enactment of this act, on voluntary safety programs, including the aviation safety action program, the flight operational quality assurance, the line operations safety audit, and the advanced qualification program. The report would include a list of the air carriers using the program, the benefits and challenges of implementing the program, how the FAA is utilizing the data, and any FAA plans to strengthen the program.
ASAP and FOQA Implementation Plan:
The bill requires the FAA to submit a plan within 180 days of enactment of this act, to facilitate the establishment and implementation of aviation safety action programs and flight operation quality assurance programs by all commercial air carriers and their unions.
Safety Management Systems:
The Administrator of the FAA shall conduct a rulemaking to require a safety management system. In conducting the rulemaking, the administrator shall consider an aviation safety action program, a flight operational quality assurance program, a line operations safety audit, and an advanced qualification program.
Flight Crewmember Screening and Qualifications:
The FAA shall develop and implement means and methods for ensuring that flight crewmembers have proper qualifications and experience. The measure requires that prospective flight crewmembers undergo comprehensive pre-employment screening, including the assessment of skills, aptitudes, airmanship, and suitability of each applicant for a position as a flight crewmember in terms of functioning effectively in the air carrier’s operational environment.
Airline Transport Pilot Certification:
The FAA shall modify the requirements for the issuance of an airline transport pilot certificate to include, sufficient hours (at least 1,500), received flight training, academic training, or operational experience that will prepare a pilot function effectively in multiple flying environments.