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Higgins announces implementation of pilot records database


Wed, Dec 8th 2021 02:55 pm

Safety measure was required following crash of Flight 3407

Congressman Brian Higgins announced the latest milestone in an over 12-year fight to improve airline safety. Effective Dec. 7, pilot records must now be filed through the pilot records database available on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website.

Higgins said, “Each time we board an airplane, we can be thankful to the families of Flight 3407 who fought tirelessly to make flying safer for everyone. The pilot records database builds accountability and transparency into the decisions made around who is entrusted to fly. This is a final piece in a complicated puzzle that took years to complete.”

Following an investigation of the Flight 3407 crash that occurred in Western New York on Feb. 12, 2009, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended implementation of a searchable pilot records database making pilot qualifications, training and employment history accessible to all airline operators.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking cited the justification for the recommendation: “Additional safety issues identified by the NTSB in the Colgan Air 3407 accident report included certain deficiencies in the air carrier’s recordkeeping system, as well as the air carrier’s analysis of the flightcrew’s qualifications and previous performance. Specifically, Colgan Air’s records showed that the captain had failed his initial proficiency check on the Saab 340 on October 15, 2007, received additional training, and passed his upgrade proficiency check on October 18, 2007. In addition to this particular failed check at Colgan, the NTSB stated that the captain failed his practical tests for the instrument rating (airplane category) on October 1, 1991; the commercial pilot certificate (single-engine land airplane) on May 14, 2002; and required additional training in three separate training events while a first officer at Colgan. The NTSB deemed these discrepancies in the captain’s training records as noteworthy because the captain had demonstrated previous training difficulties during his tenure at Colgan Air.”

The database was one of several safety measures the Flight 3407 families fought to include in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill of 2010, and the last yet to be fully implemented. The pilot records database began in a beta test phase in December of 2017. The final rule was released by the FAA on May 26, 2021.

Previous safety improvements in place thanks to the advocacy of the Flight 3407 families along with members of the Western New York congressional delegation include: new rules related to pilot qualifications and training, measures to reduce pilot fatigue, and requirements that provide consumers with added transparency.

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