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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-10-020
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: Develop a process for verifying, validating, auditing, and amending pilot training records at 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121, 135, and 91K operators to guarantee the accuracy and completeness of the records.
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: On September 28, 2012, we described our concern that the FAA’s planned action might not fully satisfy the intent of the recommendation. Your August 3, 2012, letter, described new administrative processes you were developing to determine the accuracy of pilot training records that airlines maintain. This recommendation was issued to address the problem we found with a company’s training records that met FAA regulatory requirements yet still did not contain sufficient detail and accuracy for the operator to identify pilots with performance problems. We were concerned that your efforts might focus on pilots who dispute records, rather than on this insufficiency of detailed information. This recommendation addresses not only the accuracy of pilot training records but also their completeness, and we cautioned that if your revisions dealt only with accuracy and not also with the minimum level of detail necessary to satisfy the regulations, the revisions would not constitute an acceptable response. Your recent letter states your belief that adherence to the regulations helps operators identify pilots with performance problems, and that once the PRD is available, operators will have more timely access to training records than they do under the existing system. We remain concerned that your planned response may not adequately address the part of this recommendation addressing the completeness of the records that will be placed in the PRD. Without an FAA oversight system to ensure a sufficient level of detail in the information contained in the PRD, training records will not provide the information operators need to make an informed decision. In our investigation of the Colgan Continental Connection flight 3407 accident, we found that information on pilot training records that complied with the regulations did not provide the needed level of detail. The revisions being implemented through the PRD have the potential to collect information with the necessary level of detail. We ask how you will ensure that the information that will be placed in the PRD will contain a sufficient level of detail for operators to make fully informed hiring decisions and to identify pilots in need of remedial training. Pending your reply, and completion of the PRD development, Safety Recommendation A-10-20 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: We are concerned that the FAA’s planned action may not fully meet the intent of the recommendation. In its letter, the FAA stated that it currently inspects training records as part of its air carrier surveillance practices to ensure that training has been completed and that the records are correct. The FAA also describes a planned administrative process being developed for the PRD that pilots will use for handling disputed records. The new administrative process will also be used 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 timeframes for transactions. The reason for our issuing this recommendation was explained thus in the letter that transmitted it to the FAA: At the public hearing for this accident, the POI for Colgan stated that, although the company’s training records met regulatory requirements, he was concerned about the lack of detailed information in the system. The FAA’s manager of air carrier training stated that electronic recordkeeping systems, such as the one used by Colgan, were approved individually for each air carrier by its POI and that his branch, which sets FAA policy on training, does not approve “software of that nature as a standalone item.” The FAA manager also indicated that the agency did not require training records to be verified or validated but stated that there should be a way to audit and amend records before they appeared in their final format. Therefore, this recommendation was issued: to address the problem of a company’s training records meeting FAA regulatory requirements, yet not containing sufficient detail and accuracy. We are concerned that the FAA’s efforts will focus on pilots who dispute records, rather than on the issue addressed in this recommendation—that the FAA’s surveillance system allows a company’s training records to meet regulatory requirements, yet still lack the detailed information needed for the air carrier to identify pilots with performance problems and take appropriate action before an accident or incident occurs. The FAA is planning to develop new administrative processes to determine the accuracy of the pilot training records maintained by airlines. This recommendation addresses not only the accuracy of these records, but also their completeness. We believe that the FAA can and should address the related issue of the completeness of the training records when the new administrative processes are developed. If the revisions deal only with accuracy, and not also with the minimum level of detail necessary to satisfy the regulations, the revisions will not constitute an acceptable response to this recommendation. Therefore, pending the FAA’s developing administrative processes that will ensure required air carrier training records contain sufficient detail and accuracy to be useful, Safety Recommendation A-10-20 remains 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. The SNPRM proposes requirements in Section 121.9, "Fraud, Falsification, or Incorrect Statements," that will partly address this recommendation for Part 121 carriers. The NTSB notes that the SNPRM does not explain changes to the process for verifying, validating, auditing and amending records and does not address Part 135 and Part 91 subpart K operators. The FAA will need to develop such a system, which is an oversight function outside the scope of this rulemaking, before this recommendation will be closed in an acceptable manner.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 1/25/2011
Response: The NTSB notes the FAA's plan to review the existing PRIA requirements and FAA guidance for documenting and retaining records of pilot training and checking. After completion of this review, the FAA will determine what revisions are needed. The activities described by the FAA represent the first steps necessary to respond to these recommendations. Accordingly, pending the FAA's taking the recommended actions, Safety Recommendations A-10-19 and -20 are classified OPEN – ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 6/22/2010
Response: 2100243 - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: We will review the existing PRIA requirements and FAA guidance for documenting and retaining records of pilot training and checking. After our review, we will 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 the Board with an update on the status of this recommendation by December 2010.