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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) adopted the safety study Introduction of Glass Cockpit Avionics into Light Aircraft on March 9, 2010.1 As a result of this study, the NTSB has issued six safety recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to address issues concerning the transition of light aircraft to the use of electronic primary flight displays (PFD) and how that change has affected the safety of light aircraft. Information supporting these recommendations is discussed in this letter and in the safety study. The NTSB would appreciate a response from you within 90 days addressing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement our recommendations.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Revise airman knowledge tests to include questions regarding electronic flight and navigation displays, including normal operations, limitations, and the interpretation of malfunctions and aircraft attitudes.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
Safety Study Plan
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Personal Floatation Device
Safety Recommendation History
We are encouraged that you have added 20 questions regarding EFDs to the airman knowledge test banks. We understand that many new full-panel and retrofit EFD systems have been certified since this recommendation was issued, and that the software on many previously installed systems has been updated, resulting in increased EFD operational diversity that has affected the development of FAA knowledge test questions. We note that your Airman Certification Standards Working Group determined it is neither feasible nor desirable to include knowledge test questions specific to any given manufacturer or system, and that questions regarding EFDs should be more generic than questions on conventional flight instruments. We agree with the working group’s findings, and we believe that the questions you have developed thus far satisfy the intent of this recommendation. Although we encourage you to develop additional EFD questions as technology changes, because you have done all you can do for now, Safety Recommendation A 10 36 is classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ACTION.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: In response to this recommendation, the FAA has added 20 electronic flight and navigation display (EFD) questions to the airman knowledge test banks. Since the date of our previous response, more EFD questions were developed; however, due to changes in technology, some questions became invalid and were removed. After adding these questions, the airman knowledge test banks now contain approximately 21 .electronic flight and navigation display questions, versus approximately 153 conventional display questions. This means approximately 12 percent of flight instrument questions are on EFDs. This ratio includes conventional flight instrument questions that are being retained in the test banks because most current production light aircraft equipped with EFDs use conventional instruments as backup flight instruments. The following is a breakdown of the current airman knowledge tests that include EFD questions: • 10 instrument pilot or instrument instructor form tests; • 3 Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Airplane form tests; and • 8 ATP Helicopter form tests. In addition to adopting the safety recommendation, the FAA believes that revising airman knowledge test questions alone will not meet the goal that both the FAA and the Board seek to achieve. Consequently, the FAA is taking a more systematic approach to airman testing. In collaboration with aviation training industry experts, the FAA has developed a comprehensive Airman Certification Standards (ACS) framework. The ACS documents are now completed and are being used as a systematic approach during the development of knowledge tests and the practical test, which include ground (oral) and flight portions for pilot certification for Private Pilot Airplane, Instrument Rating Airplane, and Commercial Pilot Airplane. The FAA continues the ACS changeover process by developing ACS documents for all airman certifications. Additional information is included in the enclosed documents: • Enclosure l: Systematic Approach Background; • Enclosure 2: Application of the Systematic Approach; • Enclosure 3: Challenges Inherent to Developing Airman Knowledge Test Questions on Electronic Flight and Navigation Displays; and • Enclosure 4: Examples of Airman Knowledge Test Questions Dealing with Electronic Flight Displays. The FAA will continue to revise airman knowledge tests to include an increasing number of questions regarding electronic flight and navigation displays, including normal operations, limitations, and the interpretation of malfunctions and aircraft attitudes. This will continue to be accomplished using the ACS systematic approach and in collaboration with aviation training industry experts. I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation and consider our actions complete.
Our last update from the FAA regarding these recommendations was its June 22, 2010, letter. We are concerned that, although nearly 3 years have passed since then, we have received no additional information regarding the agency’s efforts to address these recommendations. Pending our timely receipt of such an update and completion of the recommended actions, Safety Recommendations A-10-36 and -37 remain classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE, and Safety Recommendations A-10-38 and -39 are classified "Open--Unacceptable Response."
Although the NTSB is pleased that the FAA recognizes the need to revise or publish airman reference publications to address the increase of technically advanced aircraft in the general aviation fleet, we disagree with the FAA that it has effectively addressed this safety recommendation. During the NTSB’s study, we reviewed the FAA’s training resources and requirements and found that, although the FAA has been updating its training materials and practical test standards (PTS) in response to the introduction of glass cockpit displays in Part 23 aircraft, FAA airman knowledge tests do not currently assess pilots’ knowledge of glass cockpit displays. Safety Recommendation A-10-36 was issued as a result of this finding. In its letter, the FAA indicated that it continually updates the airman knowledge tests and that, as the number of aircraft with conventional instruments decreases and the number of those with electronic displays increases, the knowledge tests will be changed accordingly. As essentially all new airplanes are equipped with electronic displays, the NTSB asks that the FAA provide (1) examples of questions about electronic flight display (EFD) systems that have been added to the tests as a result of its continual updating and (2) the number of questions related to EFDs versus the number related to conventional flight displays. Pending our review of this information and of current airman knowledge tests that include questions regarding electronic flight and navigation displays, Safety Recommendation A-10-36 is classified OPEN – UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
MC# 2100244 - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: The FAA continues to recognize the need to revise or publish airman reference publications to address the increase of technically advanced aircraft in the general aviation fleet. The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25A) 2009 Edition provides an introduction into electronic flight displays (EFD). The Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-15A) 2008 Edition illustrates both analog and EFD instrumentations in the following areas: 1. Airplane Attitude Instrument Flying; 2. Helicopter Attitude Instrument Flying; 3. Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers; and 4. Flight Instruments. These publications generically address nonnal and abnonnal operations, interpretation of malfunctions, recovery of unusual attitudes, and typical limitations associated with EFDs. Knowledge tests are based upon these reference documents. The Regulatory Support Division, Airman Testing Standards Branch, is continually updating the airman knowledge tests. As the number of aircraft with conventional instruments decrease and those with electronic displays increase, the knowledge tests will be changed accordingly. This is normal maintenance to our knowledge test requirements. I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.
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