Aviation Safety Plan To Be Released Today
By Don Phillips
The Clinton administration will unveil an aviation safety agenda today that largely tracks one already announced by the aviation industry, beginning with mandatory equipment and training to prevent pilots from flying mechanically fit aircraft into the ground or water, government sources said yesterday.
The agenda, to be announced today by Vice President Gore, Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater and Federal Aviation Administrator Jane F. Garvey at a Reagan National Airport news conference, also contains programs to encourage cabin safety. But the plan would not require passengers to wear seat belts at all times when seated, although it will say that it "may be necessary" to require seat restraints for babies, and the FAA "may consider" rules limiting carry-on bags.
The safety plan is being developed in an effort to reduce the commercial aviation accident rate by 80 percent over the next decade. It is a distillation of hundreds of possible issues, boiled down to those the government considers having the greatest potential for saving lives. There is also an agenda for general aviation, the smaller planes in which more people die each year than in commercial aviation.
Much of the agenda involves training and public awareness campaigns, although it lists a few new rule proposals. Most of the rule proposals had been expected.
The rule-making effort calls for publication by the end of this year of regulations requiring all airliners to have a new generation of warning system to alert pilots of possible collisions with terrain or water. The goal would be to have all airliners equipped by the end of 2001.
The Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), already being installed by American, United and Alaska airlines, is designed to give pilots a terrain map display that can warn up to one minute before a possible impact. Current "ground prox" systems may give as little as a few seconds warning, sometimes not enough to prevent a crash.
The EGPWS, coupled with enhanced pilot training, is designed to combat aviation's greatest killer worldwide, now with its own name and acronym "controlled flight into terrain" or CFIT.
The program also would fight "loss-of-control" crashes, with a goal of publishing a proposed rule by the end of the year on required training on aircraft simulators. Major airlines are already implementing such training programs.
Loss-of-control crashes are the leading cause of commercial aviation deaths in the United States.
The other major agenda items for commercial aviation are:
In general aviation, the agenda is similar: pilot decision-making, loss of control, weather, controlled flight into terrain, crash survivability and runway incursions.