FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said on Monday that airlines can expect new rules soon regarding flight and duty hours for pilots, and also that rules will be clarified to ensure that airlines can get data on every checkride a pilot applicant ever took. Babbitt spoke at a high-level closed-door meeting of industry executives, pilot union reps and government officials held in Washington to discuss concerns about safety at regional airlines and what can be done to improve it. "Our job is to deliver and ensure safety, and recently we've seen some cracks in the system," Babbitt said, referring to the publicity about hiring practices and standards at regional airlines during the investigation of the Colgan Air crash in Buffalo. He said he also wants airlines to have a process to ensure that senior captains mentor new pilots as they build experience.
Babbitt and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hosted the "Call to Action" to identify immediate steps that could strengthen and improve pilot hiring, training and testing practices at regional airlines as well as at the major air carriers. The FAA said it will hold as many as 10 similar meetings throughout the country to assure that every carrier and pilot union has the opportunity to commit to these actions and to identify additional best practices that can be shared. FAA inspectors will assist in the implementation of these actions over the next several months and evaluate their effectiveness, the FAA said. AVweb's editorial director Paul Bertorelli was not pleased with the closed-door aspect of the stakeholder meeting -- click here to read his blog and join the conversation.