FAA holds summit on pilot training - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

FAA holds summit on pilot training

WASHINGTON. - That commuter plane that crashed outside Buffalo last winter has prompted the government to take a closer look at aviation safety.

That deadly crash brought up questions of whether pilots for regional airlines are being held to the same standard as those who fly commercial jets, and whether they need more training.

Half the flights in this country are now flown by smaller regional carriers.

Pilots for those regional airlines often have less experience and can be paid as little as $16,000per year.

The industry wants the government to create an even playing field by enforcing the same standards and requirements for large and small airlines.

"That kind of professional development requires a great deal of economic and capital investment to get a quality person in front of that cockpit," explains Captain John Gadzinki of the Coalition of Airline Pilot Associations. "And sometimes there's financial incentives not to do that."

The National Transportation Safety Board told Congress last week having two standards is unacceptable.

Transportation leaders say in light of the recent Buffalo crash reforms are urgently needed.

"Some issues we've heard about are far too important for us to sit around and wait for the NTSB report. We intend to act now," said Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood.

The Federal Aviation Administration wants to track pilot performance not just for a few years, like the current model, but for a pilot's entire career and make sure airlines have that information before they hire someone to sit in the cockpit.

"That information should be available, it should be accessible and it should be accurate and it needs to be complete," said FAA Administrator Randolph Babbit.

The FAA is also considering training review boards.
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