Pilot Training, Air Safety Remain High

Your March 31 interview with ex-test pilot Tony LeVier ("Former Test Pilot Takes on the FAA Over Air Safety") leaves the reader with a negative and erroneous impression with regard to pilot training and air safety.

LeVier states: "The quality of our pilots is creeping down and down." Fact: National Transportation Safety Board records reveal a continuous decline in total aviation accidents and fatalities for the past 10 years.

LeVier also makes numerous charges regarding the lack of emergency maneuver flight training. Fact: A typical newly hired airline pilot has about 2,000 hours of flight time. Pilots obtain additional certificates as they progress up the skill ladder and are tested completely for emergencies, including unusual flight attitudes such as partial and full stalls. Sophisticated flight simulators put pilots through every emergency imaginable, including very unusual attitudes, and allow airmen to experience emergencies that could never be performed safely in an aircraft.

LeVier refers to the failure of aviation committee action. Fact: FAA Administrator Donald Engen met with representatives of the aviation industry last year, and they identified 12 basic aircraft accident causative factors.

The FAA and the aviation industry have launched a vigorous new program titled "Back-to-Basics" which will highlight each one of the causative factors through various safety seminars and clinics during the next three years.

Through its Accident Prevention Program, Federal Aviation Administration specialists, supported by almost 4,000 counselor volunteers, conduct flight and ground clinics on a regular basis.


Accident Prevention Coordinator

Western-Pacific Region, FAA

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