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The FAA Tightens Pilot Training Requirements

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Federal Aviation Administration has revised pilot training requirements to increase opportunities to practice manual handling skills for stall, upset and weather-based scenarios, in light of 11 plane crashes in the U.S. over a 22-year period, the agency has announced in new regulations.

Several of the 11 crashes since 1988 could have been prevented or mitigated by the training requirements in the new regulation, the action states.

One such accident is the February 2009 crash of Colgan Air flight 3407 that killed 49 people. The Continental Airlines connection flight crashed on approach to Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. The plane, a twin turboprop Bombardier Dash-8 Q400, crashed into a house about five miles northeast of the airport, in Clarence Center, N.Y, killing everyone on board and one on the ground.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the probable cause was "the pilot in command's (PIC's) inappropriate response to the activation of the stick shaker, which led to an aerodynamic stall from which the airplane did not recover," according to the action.

A "stick shaker" works like the "vibrate" setting on a cell phone, to alert the pilot that the aircraft is about to stall.

"The PIC's response was inappropriate because he pulled back on the control column rather than pushing it forward to reduce the angle of attack. As a result, the airplane's pitch increased and its airspeed decreased, resulting in a stall," the agency said in its action.

In addition, the pilots failed to properly monitor airspeed on their primary flight display.

"Failure of both pilots to detect this situation was the result of a significant breakdown in their monitoring responsibilities and workload management," the NTSB noted in its accident report.

The FAA says the flight 3407 crash is the kind of "rare, but high-risk, in-flight" event the enhanced training requirements address.

"The PIC's poor response suggests he was surprised by activation of the stick shaker. Had the flightcrew been required to complete the ... training provisions required by this final rule, this accident would likely have been mitigated," the FAA said in its action.

Other training requirements involve enhanced runway safety, and training on crosswind takeoffs and landings with gusts. The regulation also provides for remedial training to correct performance deficiencies or multiple training failures, training for other flight crew, including flight attendants, and revises record keeping requirements for communication between flight crew and dispatch personnel.

The FAA says it is assessing several other modifications to training requirements and will propose further regulation changes as needed.

The regulations are effective March 12, 2014.

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