Press Releases

T&I Leaders Call for Investigation of Training Provided to Foreign Pilots

Washington, D.C., March 29, 2019 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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The leaders of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Subcommittee on Aviation today requested a federal investigation of international pilot training standards and training for commercial pilots operating outside of the United States, including training for the Boeing 737 MAX.

The request from Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Subcommittee on Aviation Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA), and Subcommittee on Aviation Chairman Rick Larsen (D-WA) was sent to U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin Scovel. 

The request also asks the Inspector General to focus on how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implemented recent cockpit automation management requirements to ensure that, in light of technology advancements in automation, pilots are capable of flying aircraft when automation fails or is deactivated.

The 737 MAX 8 aircraft has been grounded worldwide while investigations into two recent foreign air carrier accidents involving that specific aircraft continue.  Boeing is currently working to address a known issue with the aircraft and finalize a software fix to be submitted to the FAA for final certification, but additional questions remain regarding all factors that contributed to both accidents.

The Members requested that the Inspector General, based on their findings, provide recommendations to improve international pilot training standards and training requirements for commercial pilots operating U.S. certificated aircraft outside the United States.

The text of the Committee leaders’ letter follows, or click here.


March 29, 2019

Dear Inspector General Scovel:

While commercial aviation remains one of the safest forms of transportation, the aviation sector is always striving to reduce all risks.  In the aftermath of the two recent Boeing 737 MAX airline accidents, the first in Indonesia in October 2018 and the second this month in Ethiopia, there has been widespread speculation and discussion about possible causes.  We will not know the precise cause or causes of the accidents until the official investigations by safety authorities conclude.  We look forward to the results of your investigation into the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) aircraft certification processes related to the Boeing 737 MAX.  However, as you know, aviation accidents rarely have only one contributing factor. 

Therefore, we write to request you conduct an investigation focused on cockpit automation and pilot training.  Specifically, we request that your office:

1.       Evaluate how the FAA implemented Section 2102, “Cockpit Automation Management” of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (see language attached) and how the processes, metrics, and guidance developed and issued as mandated by the law, have been utilized by the FAA, U.S. certificated air carriers, and foreign air carriers operating in U.S. controlled airspace;

2.       Review and evaluate training provided to pilots operating U.S. certificated commercial passenger aircraft in the United States compared to the training provided to pilots operating U.S. certificated commercial passenger aircraft outside the United States, including training on the Boeing 737 MAX (training provided both before and after the Lion Air accident in October 2018);

3.       Review the requirements of the FAA, European Aviation Safety Agency, other civil aviation authorities’ regulations and the International Civil Aviation Organization standards regarding training for transport category pilots on cockpit automation, including training on the Boeing 737MAX (both before and after the Lion Air accident in October 2018); and

4.       Outline any recommendations developed or information discovered in the course of your work to improve international pilot training standards and training for pilots operating U.S. certificated commercial passenger aircraft outside the United States, particularly in light of greater automation in the cockpit.

Attachment: Sec. 2102, the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-190)

SEC. 2102. COCKPIT AUTOMATION MANAGEMENT. Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall—

(1) develop a process to verify that air carrier training programs incorporate measures to train pilots on—

(A) monitoring automation systems; and

(B) controlling the flightpath of aircraft without auto-pilot or autoflight systems engaged;

(2) develop metrics or measurable tasks that air carriers can use to evaluate pilot monitoring proficiency;

(3) issue guidance to aviation safety inspectors responsible for oversight of the operations of air carriers on tracking and assessing pilots’ proficiency in manual flight; and

(4) issue guidance to air carriers and inspectors regarding standards for compliance with the requirements for enhanced pilot training contained in the final rule published in the Federal Register on November 12, 2013 (78 Fed. Reg. 67800).

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Tags: Aviation