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FAA makes key change to how it develops training standards

Feb. 08, 2022
2 min read
FAA makes key change to how it develops training standards
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In the wake of the two fatal Boeing 737 MAX accidents, the Federal Aviation Administration made a notable change late last year to how it develops training standards for new aircraft.

The change involves the composition of what's known as a Flight Standardization Board (FSB). An FSB is a group of stakeholders who develop the training requirements for a new aircraft, including determining if simulators are required when a new variant of an existing aircraft is introduced.

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As of Dec. 27, an FSB chairperson "must ensure that FSB test subjects include air carrier pilots of varying levels of experience." Prior to this change, which was congressionally mandated by the passage of the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act in late 2020, there was no such requirement. This means that an FSB board must include airline pilots who run the entire gamut of experience levels, from junior to senior.

Pilot experience and simulator requirements became an issue with the 737 MAX accidents. The first officer of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, the second accident, had just received his commercial pilot's license in December of 2018, just three months before the accident. He had accrued 361 total flight hours. For most pilots in the U.S., it takes a minimum of 1,500 hours to fly an aircraft in airline service.

"If these pilots, hard as they tried to save their passengers, did not receive adequate training in the first place, then that is another factor that demands action. That is true no matter where they are flying or where they were trained," Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri), the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, wrote in a 2019 commentary.

More: A tale of two flights: Anxiety, excitement mix onboard return of the 737 MAX

Boeing initially designed the 737 MAX to allow pilots to seamlessly transition between older 737 models and the MAX without any simulator time, which was a decision of the FSB. Following the grounding of the type, simulator training became a requirement.

Featured image by Stephen Brashear
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