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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-10-017
Details
Synopsis: On February 12, 2009, about 2217 eastern standard time,1 a Colgan Air, Inc., Bombardier DHC-8-400 (Q400),2 N200WQ, operating as Continental Connection flight 3407, was on an instrument approach to Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, Buffalo, New York, when it crashed into a residence in Clarence Center, New York, about 5 nautical miles northeast of the airport. The 2 pilots, 2 flight attendants, and 45 passengers aboard the airplane were killed, one person on the ground was killed, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. The flight, which originated from Liberty International Airport (EWR), Newark, New Jersey, was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Require 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121, 135, and 91K operators to document and retain electronic and/or paper records of pilot training and checking events in sufficient detail so that the carrier and its principal operations inspector can fully assess a pilot‘s entire training performance.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Aviation
Location: Clarence Center, NY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA09MA027
Accident Reports: Loss of Control on Approach, Colgan Air, Inc., Operating as Continental Connection Flight 3407, Bombardier DHC 8 400, N200WQ
Report #: AAR-10-01
Accident Date: 2/12/2009
Issue Date: 2/23/2010
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s): Training and Education

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 2/21/2014
Response: We note that you have developed the Pilot Records Database (PRD), have determined that implementation of the PRD will require rulemaking, and are currently drafting a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). On August 3, 2012, you informed us that you believe a comment field in the PRD will provide a mechanism for capturing needed details about pilot training and checking events. On September 28, 2012, we expressed concern that completion of a comments field by check airmen in the PRD would not be mandatory and that this would limit the assessment of a pilot’s training performance. You now state that check airmen are not required to provide comments with existing paper-based documentation systems and that the records contained in the PRD will provide sufficient detail to assess a pilot’s entire training performance. The comment field in the PRD will be a valuable mechanism for documenting needed details about an individual pilot’s training and checking events. We urge the FAA to provide guidance and otherwise to encourage individuals entering information into the PRD to provide comments when appropriate. Such guidance should address situations when comments are always needed, such as failed checkrides. Pending implementation of the PRD, including guidance about when comments are needed in PRD entries, Safety Recommendation A-10-17 remains classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 1/7/2014
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: As discussed in our previous letter to the Board, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chartered the Pilot Records Database (PRD) Aviation Rulemaking Committee as a result of Public Law (P.L.) 111-216, Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of2010. P.L. 111-216, section 203, Pilots Records Database, stipulates that this database must contain training records from air carriers including qualification checks, employment history, and termination. In September 2012, the FAA completed the PRD proof of concept as planned. The FAA designed the proof of concept to help determine the information technology requirements needed to develop a fully functional database. In addition, the FAA hosted two internal demonstrations of the proof of concept. During the demonstrations, the system was able to create sample pilot reports using data from FAA systems and from a mockup of an air carrier system. Formal implementation of the new PRD system will require rulemaking. The FAA approved the rulemaking action plan for the PRD in March 2013 and is now drafting a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). The FAA anticipates publishing an NPRM in spring 2015. Once rulemaking is complete, the PRO will replace the existing requirements of the Pilot Records Improvement Act. After this transition, air carriers will be required to access pertinent pilot training and employment records through the PRO to evaluate a pilot's history before allowing an individual to begin service as a pilot. In its September 28, 2012, letter to the FAA, the Board expressed concern that completion of a comments field by check airmen in the PRD would not be mandatory, which would limit the assessment of a pilot's training performance. However, the PRO would accept paper records from check airmen, even in cases where the check airman did not input comments. This behavior would be functionally identical to today's system, as check airmen do not always write comments on paper records. It is the FAA's intent that the records contained in the PRO will provide sufficient detail for the air carrier and its FAA principal operations inspector to assess the pilot's entire training performance. The Board also expressed concern that the FAA is focusing on pilots who dispute their training records, rather than on training records that meet regulatory requirements but lack the detailed information necessary to identify pilots with performance problems. The FAA believes adherence to the regulations helps air carriers identify pilots with performance problems. Additionally, once the PRO is available, air carriers will have more timely access to training records than they do under the existing system. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on these recommendations and provide an update by November 30, 2014.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 9/28/2012
Response: As a result of the Colgan Continental Connection flight 3407 accident, Congress passed Public Law (PL) 111 216, “Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010.” Section 203 of PL 111 216, “FAA Pilot Records Database,” stipulates that the FAA must create and maintain a database that contains pilot training records from air carriers, including qualification checks, proficiency checks, and employment termination. In its response, the FAA states that it is currently evaluating a Pilot Records Database (PRD) “proof-of-concept” system. Although the PRD will capture all of the recommended information, it does not provide for the direct transfer of paper records between an air carrier and the database; however, it will allow for the transfer of electronic records and the capture of check airmen comments. The FAA believes that the ability to enter comments into the PRD will satisfy the intent of Safety Recommendations A-10-17 through -19. In our report on the Colgan Continental Connection flight 3407 accident, we stated that “the use of electronic pilot training records is acceptable as long as the records contain detailed information from which a pilot’s performance during training and checking events can be fully determined.” We emphasize that it is the information contained on the paper records that an acceptable system must capture and retain. In the flight 3407 accident investigation, we found that the accident pilot’s records—both from his training and from his limited experience at Gulfstream?showed evidence of his poor pilot skills. Because Colgan’s practice was to transfer a limited amount of data from its paper records into an electronic system and then destroy the paper records, it was much more difficult for the airline to evaluate the accident pilot’s skills and need for remedial training. Accordingly, we believe that including a comment field in the PRD is a valuable and necessary feature, but it is not enough. For a response to this safety recommendation to be classified acceptable, such a comment field must be used to provide additional information, similar to what is often recorded on paper. The PRD should do more than provide a comment field; it should require that such a field include comments. Accordingly, pending (1) completion of a PRD that contains records of pilot training and checking events sufficiently detailed to enable the operator and its FAA POI to fully assess a pilot’s entire training performance and (2) implementation of a requirement that operators provide these training records to hiring employers to fulfill their requirement under PRIA, Safety Recommendation A-05-1 is classified “Open?Acceptable Response,” and Safety Recommendations A-10-17 and -19 remain classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 8/3/2012
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Acting Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) encourages air carriers to implement policies that ask pilot applicants for voluntary disclosure of FAA records, including notices of disapproval for evaluation events. Advisory Circular 120-68F, Pilot Records Improvement Act of 1996, published on May 31, 2012, outlines the FAA's expectations for disclosure and gives instructions on how to request copies of FAA airmen records. The FAA reiterated the position that air carriers should voluntarily request this information in the January 2010 Call to Action Final Report. The report is available online at: http://www.faa.gov/library/reports/mediaicall_to_action_Jan20 1 O.pdf In 2010, the FAA chartered the Pilot Records Database (PRD) Aviation Rulemaking Committee as a result of Public Law (P.1.) 111-216, section 203, FAA Pilot Records Database. This section stipulates that the database must contain pilot training records from air carriers including qualification checks, proficiency checks, and employment termination. While the PRD will capture all the information listed above, it currently does not provide for the direct transfer of paper records between an air carrier and the database. The PRD will, however, allow for the transfer of electronic records and the capture of check airmen comments. The FAA believes the ability to enter comments into the PRD is responsive to Safety Recommendations A-10-17 through -19 and fulfills the requirement for capturing "comments" that is spelled out in P.L. 111-216. The PRD "proof-of-concept" is scheduled to be completed by September 30, 2012. To aid in record retention until the PRD is available, the FAA issued Information for Operators (InFO) 11014, Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Parts 91,121, 125, and 135 Retention of Pilot Records for the Pilot Records Database (PRD), on August 15, 2011. The InFO instructs parts 91, 121, 125, and 135 operators to retain various pilot records that they had on file as of August I, 2010, and records that they will create in the future, for transmission to the PRD, once the database is created. The Pilot Records Improvement Act of 1996 (PRIA) already provides for an open exchange of historical pilot records. Under PRIA, the FAA airmen certificate history is provided to the hiring air carrier directly from the FAA while employment and training history is provided in paper form to hiring air carriers from previous employers. However, the FAA is required to replace PRIA with the PRD. The electronic nature of the PRD and the fact that records will be submitted to it as they are captured means that these records will be available at any time when a PRD request is made by a hiring air carrier. Currently, under PRlA, there are delays in getting the employment and training records from previous employers. The PRD will eliminate these delays. We fully expect a transition period for this PRIA to PRD conversion. Details of this transition will be shared in the FAA's forthcoming notice of proposed rulemaking; a complete rulemaking schedule is not yet finalized. We will provide an update on this rulemaking by August 30, 2013. The FAA currently inspects training records as part of its required air carrier surveillance to ensure that training was completed and the records are correct. As part of the PRD, pilots will be able to use an automated process for handling disputed records. The FAA is also working on new administrative processes to determine the accuracy of the original record from the air carrier, the authenticity and accuracy of a record change request from a pilot, and expected response/resolution time frames for transactions. The FAA believes this is responsive to Safety Recommendation A-10-20. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on these recommendations and provide an update by August 30, 2013.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 7/15/2011
Response: Notation 8106A: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) titled "Qualification, Service, and Use of Crewmembers and Aircraft Dispatchers," published at 76 Federal Register 29336-29526 on May 20, 2011. The notice proposes to amend the regulations for flight and cabin crewmember and aircraft dispatcher training programs in domestic, flag, and supplemental operations. The proposed regulations are intended to contribute significantly to reducing aviation accidents by requiring the use of flight simulation training devices (FSTD) for flight crewmembers and including additional training and evaluation requirements for all crewmembers and aircraft dispatchers in areas that are critical to safety. The proposal also reorganizes and revises the qualification, training, and evaluation requirements. The SNPRM is based on the FAA's review of comments submitted in response to the January 12, 2009, notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on these issues and its determination that the NPRM did not adequately address or clarify some topics; it is also based on provisions of the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010. Although the SNPRM states several times in several different sections that these recommendations are addressed by the proposed rulemaking, the NTSB is concerned that the language in the SNRPM appears to exclude any further tracking of pilots once they complete their checkrides, even if they experienced difficulty performing a maneuver. Such a scenario was identified during the investigation of the Colgan Air accident. The NTSB believes that, if implemented, the proposed rule would allow a loophole in which carriers can suppress or ignore vital information about individual performance. Pilot performance records should be robust and meaningful, and instructor and check airman comments, where appropriate, should be maintained. When pilot performance is substandard, the scores given on individual maneuvers should be maintained, including detailed comments from instructor pilots, not just check airmen. The NTSB urges the FAA to require that carriers maintain sufficiently detailed records of all pilot training and performance.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 1/25/2011
Response: The NTSB notes the FAA's plan to review existing regulatory requirements, policy, and guidance for documenting and retaining records of pilot training to determine what changes need to be made to ensure that these records contain sufficient detail to be used effectively in fully assessing a pilot's entire training performance and to identify pilots who need remedial training and oversight. Accordingly, pending completion of the recommended action, Safety Recommendations A-10-17 and -18 are classified OPEN – ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 6/22/2010
Response: MC# 2100243 - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: We will review our existing regulatory requirements, policy, and guidance for documenting and retaining records of pilot training and checking to determine what changes, if any, need to be made. If we determine modifications are necessary, we will evaluate various options and determine what changes would be appropriate. We will provide you with an update on the status of this recommendation by December 2010.