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The NTSB has been calling for cockpit systems to warn pilots when they are flying too slowly The NTSB has been calling for the FAA, for close to a decade, to study whether it should require airlines and aircraft manufacturers to install cockpit systems to warn pilots when they are going too slowly, even before they are in immediate danger of stalling.
After the Turkish Airlines crash in 2009, Boeing began installing a spoken low-airspeed warning system in 737s. The 777 is equipped with a low-speed warning tone, but it does not feature a spoken alert. By the time a stall warning known as a "stick shaker" activated on the Asiana flight, the pilots were unable to abort the landing. In a 2010 safety recommendation published one year after the Colgan crash, the NTSB expressed frustration that the FAA had not moved more quickly to implement low-airspeed warnings: "The NTSB notes that human factors concerns associated with a low-airspeed alert do not require more than 6 years of study for a solution to be implemented." Scott Maurer, whose daughter Lorin died in the 2009 Colgan accident and who heads a group of families that advocate for more stringent safety standards, blamed the FAA for delaying rule changes because of their cost. The FAA's delay "gets in the way of doing the right thing and lives have been lost as a result," Maurer said. Still, Maurer said there has been progress. "The origins of so many FAA regulations are the result of crashes," Maurer said. "Asiana may be the tipping point, as Colgan 3407 was a tipping point." In a statement, the FAA said it is still studying possible enhancements for pilot awareness of low speed conditions on large commercial planes. "That work is continuing and involves considerations for new and existing designs," the FAA statement added. Senator Charles Schumer of New York has called on the FAA to approve by October another rule passed by Congress that would require pilots to receive more intensive simulator training on stalls. Robert Mann, an aviation consultant, suggested another possible lesson from the Asiana incident: looking more closely at how pilots are paired on flights. The pilot at the controls of the Asiana flight was attempting his first landing of a Boeing 777 in San Francisco and his supervisor was making his first flight as a trainer, and it was the first time the two pilots had flown together, the NTSB said. "The issue is whether you pair certain crew members with certain characteristics together," Mann said. Asiana declined to comment on that issue. Whatever conclusions are eventually reached about the Asiana crash, the lengthy process the FAA undergoes to approve new rules suggests that any change may be slow in coming. Global standards, requiring agreement among FAA counterparts around the world, are likely to take even longer. Tue, Jul 16, 2013 AirGuideOnline ISSN 1544-3760
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