GAO: Pilot training regs should focus more on decision-making skills

March 28, 2012

Washington – The Federal Aviation Administration’s current commercial pilot training requirements focus too much on the mechanics of flying and do not adequately train pilots in making effective decisions or assessing risk, according to a Government Accountability Office report (.pdf file) released March 20.

GAO interviewed key airline industry stakeholders, who reported that new pilots come in with a “wide range of initial training experiences” that did not impart the behavioral competencies most valued by the industry. According to the report, new pilots should have additional training in the following areas:

  • Situational awareness, risk assessment and decision-making
  • New virtual simulation technologies
  • Up-to-date competencies in new automation systems, avionics, information displays and other technologies

GAO recommended FAA institute new and stricter guidelines regulating pilot schools and trainers to reduce the variability of pilot training.

After GAO began its investigation, FAA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (.pdf file) in the Feb. 27 Federal Register that would increase training qualifications for passenger airline co-pilots.