Skip to comments.FAA ‘Safety Culture’ or Snitching Program?
Posted on 03/20/2012 6:36:48 PM PDT by pabianice
In the old days and I mean prior to last November we flight instructors could observe a student make a minor mistake in the airplane, and then watch to see how he or she resolved it. That's not the way it is after February 2012. The FAA has installed a web-based occurrence tracking system in ATC facilities and now provides new guidance on what needs to be typed into that system. In short, controllers are being directed to snitch on pilots when we make a mistake. This is bad news for flight training, and heres why: Instruction needs to be both corrective and nurturing, like parenting. Under the new rules, thats no longer possible.
Were you worried the first time you sent your 16-year-old out solo with the car? Flight instructors get to relive that phase of parenting over and over again. As the airplane with only one aboard starts its ground roll, I ponder whether I left anything out of the training. Three landings later, I sigh in relief. (For other instructors reading this, admit it, you do, too.)
We teach three elements of flying: physical skills, the book learning and judgment. You can measure the physical skills. You can test the book learning. But you can only observe judgment. Talking on the radio is an area where the student needs to learn the judgment lessons himself. If he accepts a clearance for closed traffic, he's going to have to learn that there are two elements of the readback: takeoff clearance and direction of traffic (right or left).
Trust me, if you, the instructor, intervene every time the student forgets which way to turn, the student will never learn to listen. It's far more effective for the controller to give him an earful rather than you. I grant you, your relationship with the tower will be strained if you let it happen too often. But the student has to make the mistakes, learn, and improve while you are in the airplane otherwise, he'll turn the wrong way on his first solo.
The new mandatory ATC reports should worry all instructors. There is no allowance in the guidance for students and the learning process. The student is introduced to swimming at the deep end. What we're seeing in our part of the country is a strict compliance with the letter of the order, including the filing of reports by controllers against pilots for the following (taken from the ATO rules):
A-7. Communication. Any instance in which communication with an aircraft was not established or not maintained as expected/intended, and results in alternative control actions or additional notifications by ATC, or a flight crew, or in a landing without a clearance.
Management has been told to monitor ATC in real time and by review of tapes. That puts the pressure on the controller to type everything into the reporting system: go-arounds, missed calls, repetitions and so on. The following morning, the output of the system prints out at the local FSDO. If there is a report, the aircraft operator can expect a call from an FAA inspector.
If there were an in-flight emergency or VFR pilot trapped on top, I'm hoping I do get a call. But here is a call I certainly did not expect to get: In the course of an hour of touch-and-goes, the solo student pilot got a clearance to land. It went in one ear and out his mouth. He did a touch and go, just like the previous four trips around the pattern. Yes, it was a mistake. But was it really worthy of several phone calls with the FSDO, a written statement and discussion of potential certificate action under §91.123?
The reality is we cannot change the edicts of the Air Traffic Organization. But now we must consider how we change our teaching methods. If we step in every time a student readback is incorrect, the student may begin to rely on us. Thats not good. It only delays the day he or she gets yelled at by ATC or worse and we never get to see how the student reacts to a tough situation. We only get the phone call from the FAA after it happens.
I applaud the FAA for adopting a safety culture. But a safety culture implies a just culture; its going to take a while before that sinks in. While were making the shift, I recommend that student pilots identify themselves at initial call-up and carry a stack of ASRS forms on every flight.
The rest of us, we need to be on our best behavior.
The author is a certified flight instructor who wishes to remain anonymous.
I do not trust in this society.
“Hi, I’m from the FAA and I’m here to help”.
I’ve been finding controllers being pricks lately. They are tending to make up requirements that do not exist in the FAR/AIM and being rude, nasty, and terse, and not just to me but to everyone.
Will the same thing happen if the student leaves the turn signal on after making the turn? LOL!
Yep. I used to consider them as friendlies but things have completely changed. With the new rules they have become an enemy just like every other Government employee.
Let’s dig up Ronnie Reagan and teach them another lesson
I predict that after Obama finishes driving out all the doctors from their field, he can turn his attention to aviation.
He can make it harder to get a license, put a stop to general aviation (no more corporate jets for the billionaires) claiming it's not fair for so few to waste so much oil, and only government pilots will be able to fly government planes.
The major airlines will get the General Motors treatment.
Question: If todays FAA regulations were in place during the period 1903-1908, how may violations would he hurled upon the Wright brothers?
Along the same lines, there are posters encouraging persons to report any unusual activities or persons (which is really common sense in a post 9-11 world) The poster is really Orwellian, though, because the picture of the two pilots, looking serious and seemingly, on on board with the program, and asking the observer of the poster for the report, look like...............................(wait for it).........
..............................................terrorists with epaulets.
The FAA, TSA, DHS are FUBAR.
Here’s the other thing. Controller make mistakes all the time, but they are covered up by their supervisors because if the controller is suspended then they are short a person on the shift and someone else has to work overtime. As you know there are pressures on ATC to keep that to a minimum.
The issue is, do they really expect pilots to be perfect automatons, never making a mistake, day in and day out.
Yes, we all want a culture of safety to avoid the mistake that can be fatal, but most of these snitch incidents should be “no blood, no foul”.
The real problem is the FAA administration. Few are pilots and most are political appointments. We need a good President to immediately clean house on all that and give the controllers back their profession.
“Ive been finding controllers being pricks lately.”
Returning to what we had prior to Reagan firing the controlers!
They have time to monitor radio traffic and review tapes? For flight instruction? There aren’t enough people being trained to fly GA now to raise a fuss over.
THEY (the FAA) CLEARLY HAVE TOO MUCH MONEY, TOO MANY EMPLOYEES AND TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS.
SO DOES THE REST OF THE DAMN GOVERNMENT.
This is the Democrat/Leftist attempt to destroy General Aviation. Plain and simple. Nothing else.
Controlling large commercial aircraft is much easier when we in the General Aviation arena are kept out of the skies.
It is also a slap at our freedom and liberty so it is a “twofer” for them.
I know a number of controllers at my field. Good guys. They fly and belong to the local clubs. I think the pressure on them is from within and don’t think they are just mean by nature. I have no doubt the liberals in the federal government hate GA with a passion. We even have idiots such as org.whodat here on FR that call GA a “rich guys hobby”.