The Department of Transportation has no greater obligation than to ensure a safe transportation system. The FAA, as Administrator Randy Babbitt testified yesterday in the Senate, is dedicated to aviation safety.
Any loss is felt keenly by us all; one fatality is one too many.
Let's be clear on the rules; there is only one level of safety: all air carriers that operate aircraft with 10 or more seats are required to meet the same safety standards and are subject to the same level of safety oversight across the board.
In light of February's Colgan Air crash and the information coming from the subsequent NTSB investigation, Administrator Babbitt and I want to act fast to ensure that our safety standard is being met throughout the entire industry–-from large commercial carriers to smaller, regional operators.
To that end, we have ordered FAA inspectors to immediately focus inspection on training programs to ensure that regional airlines are complying with federal regulations.
And, on Monday, June 15, we will gather representatives from the major air carriers, their regional partners, aviation industry groups and labor to participate in a “call to action” to improve airline safety and pilot training. This session will address pilot training, cockpit discipline and other flight safety issues.
Our summit will elicit immediate actions and voluntary commitments in four 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.
In the past, the FAA has waited until the NTSB released recommendations emerging from its crash investigations--in this case, the formal report is not due out until January, 2010. If we acted on those recommendations the day we received the report, it would take another six months to issue rules. That would mean it would take another year from now before anything was done at all.
We can't wait that long. The flying public can't wait that long. Acting quickly on what we already have learned from Colgan 3407 is the right way to provide passengers the confidence they seek today.
While we are in an extremely safe period in aviation history, everyone one at the FAA--and across the DOT--knows that we must remain alert and aware of the challenges in our aviation system, and that we must continue to work to enhance the safety of the system.
As Administrator Babbitt told the Senate hearing yesterday, "This is a business where one mistake is one too many."