Yesterday, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt and I hosted a "Call to Action" with senior officials from U.S. airlines, pilot unions and the FAA.
It was a productive first session, and we were able to identify immediate steps to strengthen and improve pilot hiring, training and testing practices at regional airlines as well as major carriers.
In Tom Costello's NBC News segment on the meeting, I think you'll see a determined Randy Babbitt. I hope the flying public is as impressed with his tough leadership yesterday as I was.
I say "first session" because, although we've taken some valuable first steps, we will hold we will hold up to a dozen additional meetings around the country where we collect best practices and secure commitments from every carrier and pilot union. We are far from finished on this.
However, the meeting produced several initial actions:
- The FAA will expect airlines to seek privacy waivers from pilots they are considering hiring so the airlines can obtain more extensive pilot records. A rule change to mandate this step and expand the number of available records requires Congressional action.
- The FAA will also expect carriers to download cockpit flight data for review of pilot safety practices and to set up safety reporting programs. These programs are currently voluntary.
- The FAA will start rewriting the rules for pilot flight and duty time to incorporate recent scientific research about the factors that lead to fatigue.
- The FAA will expect greater major carrier involvement with pilot training and mentoring at their regional carriers.
If you watch Alan Chernoff's CNN segment, you'll see Randy Babbitt and I making it quite clear that this is a new day at the FAA, and a new day at DOT.
That FAA will not wait for Congress to add mandatory layers to airline safety. That FAA will not wait for the NTSB report from February's Colgan Air crash.
Because air passengers deserve action. And, they deserve it now.