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NTSB Chair Addresses Pilot Fatigue, Training

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NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman told the Senate Thursday that measures are needed to ensure pilots are better trained and better rested before they fly. "If we are serious about aviation safety, we must establish a system that minimizes pilot fatigue and ensures that flight crews report to work rested and fit for duty," Hersman said in testimony. Hersman delivered her speech on the subject of aviation safety more than one year after the fatal crash of Colgan Air's Continental Connection Flight 3407 near Buffalo. Meanwhile in Buffalo, Thursday, a report in the Buffalo News noted that the pilot of Flight 3407 had slept the previous night in the airline's crew room and suggested that backward progress had since been made. According to the article, Colgan has "come up with a way of making it more difficult for pilots to do that. It's ordered the lights to be kept on in its crew rooms." Hersman's full comments continued on the broader subject of crew rest and expanded to crew training, ranging from remedial work to stall training, to the NTSB's most wanted list.

"We must also have a system in which we are steadfastly confident that all of our commercial pilots are proficient and well-trained," the chairman said. Hersman noted that remedial training and additional oversight for pilots expressing training deficiencies would help ensure mastery of the skills necessary for safe flight. The NTSB believes that "more realistic stall and upset training" can now be accomplished in the simulator. Thanks to advances in technology, the NTSB says pilots could use the tools to acquire a better understanding of an airplane's flight characteristics in the post-stall regime if fully developed stall models are approved for training. Read the chairman's full comments, here.

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