New Approaches Are Needed to Strengthen FAA Oversight of Air Carrier Training Programs and Pilot Performance
On December 20, 2011, we issued a report on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) oversight of air carrier training programs and pilot performance. We found that FAA’s oversight of air carriers’ pilot training and proficiency programs lacks the rigor needed to identify and track poor performing pilots and address potential program risks. FAA has not sufficiently trained inspectors on how to evaluate air carriers’ basic training assessments. In addition, FAA does not provide sufficient oversight of check airmen—who perform the majority of proficiency checks on air carrier pilots. We also found that FAA maintains extensive pilot information that air carriers can use to evaluate the competence and qualifications of pilots; however, its current request process hinders air carriers’ ability to easily obtain all relevant data. We made seven recommendations to FAA to improve its oversight. FAA concurred or partially concurred with each of our recommendations. However, FAA’s responses did not meet the intent of four of our recommendations, and we are requesting additional information before resolving them. In particular, we request further justification regarding FAA's response on the adequacy of inspector oversight of check airmen.