Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt announced Tuesday that they have ordered FAA inspectors to immediately focus inspection on training programs to ensure that regional airlines are complying with federal regulations.
"I have no greater obligation than to ensure the safety of airline travelers in this country," said LaHood. "One fatality is one too many."
LaHood and Babbitt will also gather representatives from the major air carriers, their regional partners, aviation industry groups, and labor in Washington, D.C., on June 15 to participate in a "call to action" to improve airline safety and pilot training. This review will address pilot training, cockpit discipline, and other issues associated with flight safety.
"It's clear to us in looking at the February Colgan Air crash in Buffalo that there are things we should be doing now," said Babbitt. "My goal is to make sure that the entire industry — from large commercial carriers to smaller, regional operators — is meeting our safety standard."
Department of Transportation and FAA officials said that while they look forward to receiving the results of the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation of the Colgan Air crash, there is no time to lose in acting upon information that is already available.
The June 15 summit is designed to foster actions and voluntary commitments in four key areas:
- Air carrier management responsibilities for crew education and support;
- Professional standards and flight discipline;
- Training standards and performance;
- Mentoring relationships between mainline carriers and their regional partners.
Secretary LaHood praised Babbitt’s experience as a former commercial airline pilot and former president of the Airline Pilots Association, noting that he brings a deep understanding to aviation issues.
"I have great faith that Randy's background as a pilot and his thoughtful approach to aviation matters will help us tackle the issues raised in the Colgan Air crash," said LaHood. "There is nothing more important than safety and safety cannot wait."
Expanded pilot record checks to include all FAA records and records airlines already receive from past employers.
The FAA proposes to set a nine-hour minimum opportunity for rest prior to the duty period, a one-hour increase over the current rules.
NTSB begins a two-day forum probing the safety implications of "code sharing" agreements.
Rep. James Oberstar expects House passage on Thursday and Senate passage soon afterward.