Question asked by Oreste Rossi (PPE)
(10 January 2014)
Subject: Pilot training
A recent study commissioned by the US Federal Aviation Administration determined that technology and the use of automatic steering systems are undermining the skills of flight commanders. It was concluded that they are not very reactive and unused to holding the joystick. They have also failed to master the latest on-board electronics.
The study describes how technology has made aircraft pilots unresponsive: captains seem to have become dependent upon the automatic systems with which new aircraft are extensively equipped, but nonetheless struggle to master the latest updates of those systems, resorting to manual controls essentially only for take-off and landing. This survey showed that the pilots are gradually forgetting how to fly a plane without the aid of technology. For example, they are often over-reliant on automated systems and may be reluctant to intervene or over-ride them in hazardous or exceptional situations, or do not have sufficient in-depth knowledge to control the trajectory of the aircraft. Among the main reasons for these shortcomings are training methods and the short amount of time spent on training.
Among the incidents examined, in nearly two-thirds of cases, pilots had problems with both the manual control of the aircraft and the use of on-board computers (as in the case of the tragedy of the Air France Airbus A330, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on 9 June 2009) and for years the aviation industry itself has identified over-reliance on computers as a potential problem with very wide-ranging impact.
In light of the above, can the Commission answer the following questions:
1. Does it intend to examine the results of this study and does it intend to promote one of European relevance similar to the one discussed?
2. Does it believe it is appropriate to lay down new minimum standards in conjunction with EASA to implement current safety measures for training and retraining of commercial airline pilots?
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