FAA, Congress Scrutinize Regional Airline Safety

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FAA inspectors have been told to immediately focus their efforts on training programs at regional airlines to ensure that they are in compliance with federal regulations, the agency said on Tuesday. "It's clear to us in looking at the February Colgan Air crash in Buffalo that there are things we should be doing now," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "My goal is to make sure that the entire industry -- from large commercial carriers to smaller, regional operators -- is meeting our safety standard." The agency will host a "call to action" summit in Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 15, to review airline safety and pilot training. Representatives from national and regional airlines as well as industry and labor groups are expected to participate. Officials expect the meeting to result in commitments to act in four key areas: crew education and support, professional standards and flight discipline, training standards and performance, and mentoring relationships between mainline carriers and their regional partners.

Two congressional committees this week also are investigating aviation safety issues related to regional airlines. On Wednesday, the Senate's aviation subcommittee heard testimony about the FAA's role in ensuring safety and security for air carriers. And on Thursday, the House aviation subcommittee will investigate pilot workforce issues at regional airlines.