NTSB Wants Stricter Oversight Of Pilot Failures

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The FAA should find a new way to deal with pilots of air carrier and charter operations who consistently fail flight proficiency checks, and ensure that records of those failures are taken into account during hiring decisions, the NTSB said Friday in a Safety Recommendation Letter. The recommendation was prompted by the safety board's investigation of a ditching of a Cessna 402C in the Atlantic in July 2003, in which two people died. The pilot failed to adequately manage the aircraft after the right engine failed, the NTSB said, and didn't provide a safety briefing to the passengers before ditching. FAA records showed that between 1993 and 1998, the pilot had failed nine flight checks. The NTSB said the FAA should require all Part 121 and 135 air carriers to obtain any notices of disapproval for flight checks for certificates and ratings for all pilot applicants and evaluate this information before making a hiring decision. Also, the FAA should conduct a study to determine whether the number of flight checks a pilot can fail should be limited and whether the existing system of providing additional training after a notice of disapproval is adequate for pilots who have failed multiple flight checks. On the basis of the findings of the study, the FAA should establish a flight-check failure limit and modify the recheck training requirements, if necessary. The investigation of the ditching is ongoing, and the NTSB has not stated a probable cause.