The U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and its aviation subcommittee want a federal investigation of cockpit automation and international pilot training standards in the wake of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 accidents.
In a March 29 letter to Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin Scovel, the committee leaders requested a federal investigation of international pilot training standards and training for commercial pilots operating outside the United States, including training for the 737 MAX. The request also asks Scovel’s office to focus on how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implemented recent cockpit automation management requirements to ensure that, in light of technology advancements in automation, pilots are capable of flying aircraft when automation fails or is deactivated.
The request was signed by Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon and chairman of the committee; Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, ranking Republican on the committee; and Rep. Rick Larsen, a Democrat from Washington, who chairs the subcommittee.
Specifically, the committee leadership wants the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to:
- Review and evaluate training provided to pilots operating U.S. certificated commercial passenger aircraft in the United States compared to the training provided to pilots operating U.S. certificated commercial passenger aircraft outside the United States, including training on the Boeing 737 MAX (training provided both before and after the Lion Air accident in October 2018);
- Review the requirements of the FAA, European Union Aviation Safety Agency and other civil aviation authorities’ regulations and the International Civil Aviation Organization’s standards regarding training for transport category pilots on cockpit automation, including training on the Boeing 737MAX (both before and after the Lion Air accident in October 2018); and,
- Outline any recommendations developed or information discovered in the course of the review to improve international pilot training standards and training for pilots operating U.S.-certificated commercial passenger aircraft outside the United States, particularly in light of greater automation in the cockpit.
In addition, the OIG is to evaluate how FAA has implemented portions of the FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 pertaining to cockpit automation management. The language in the act requires FAA to develop a process to verify that air carrier training programs incorporate measures to train pilots on monitoring automation systems; control the aircraft flightpath without auto pilot or autoflight systems; develop metrics or measurable tasks that carriers can use to evaluate pilot monitoring proficiency; issue guidance to safety inspectors responsible for oversight of the operations of air carriers on tracking and assessing pilots’ proficiency in manual flight; and issue guidance to air carriers and inspectors regarding standards for compliance with previously implemented requirements for enhanced pilot training.