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FAA issues rule to enhance commercial pilot training

Passengers wait for their flights in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), in Los Angeles, Cali
Passengers wait for their flights in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), in Los Angeles, Cali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday issued a final rule that it said would "significantly advance" the way commercial airline pilots are trained in the United States.

FAA administrator Michael Huerta said the goal was to give pilots "the skills and confidence to handle any situation they might encounter," including "events which although rare, can be catastrophic."

Much of the focus will be on handling crosswinds and gusty winds, as well operating aircraft in the event of the loss of automated systems, Huerta said at a press conference.

The final rule stems in part from the crash of Colgan Air flight 3407 in upstate New York in February 2009, which triggered a number of enquiries, and a subsequent Congressional mandate to enhance pilot training efforts.

The National Transportation Safety Board in 2010 determined that the accident, which killed all 49 people on board the plane, which was en route from Newark, New Jersey, to Buffalo, New York, was caused in part by the pilots' inability to respond properly to warnings of an aerodynamic stall.

"Today's rule is a significant advancement for aviation safety and U.S. pilot training," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.

Among other things, the final rule requires:

- Ground and flight training that enables pilots to prevent and recover from aircraft stalls and upsets;

- Use of data by air carriers to track remedial training for pilots with performance deficiencies, such as failing a proficiency check or unsatisfactory performance during flight training;

- Training for more effective pilot monitoring; and

- Enhanced runway safety procedure.

The plane in the February 2009 crash was a Colgan Air Bombardier Dash 8-400 regional jet; it was operating as a Continental Connection flight under a codeshare agreement with Continental Airlines.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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