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On January 13, 2015, about 2058 eastern standard time (EST), a Cessna 152, N757ZM, crashed into shallow water at a public beach in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The commercial pilot died, and the airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces. A review of air traffic control (ATC) data indicated that the pilot had requested assistance from ATC, telling the controller that she could not continue flight under visual flight rules (VFR) and that she wanted to land; night instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at the time. FAA Order 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, states that air traffic controllers providing assistance to VFR pilots having difficulty flying in IMC should ask if the pilot is qualified for instrument flight rules (IFR) flight. For pilots not requesting an IFR clearance or not qualified for IFR, controllers should provide airports where visual meteorological conditions (VMC) are reported, provide other available pertinent weather information, and ask if the pilot chooses to conduct VFR flight to such an airport.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Develop, in collaboration with your internal offices that investigate aviation accidents and incidents and also organizations familiar with the challenges facing pilots confronting an emergency situation, and require recurrent national training for air traffic controllers, including scenario-based training, to instruct them on identifying and responding to emergency situations to include the following: (1) recognizing emergencies, (2) determining what help is needed, and (3) taking actions that help pilots safely resolve the situation.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Acceptable Response
New Smyrna Beach, FL, United States
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Safety Recommendation History
We note that you plan to convene a cross-organizational workgroup of subject experts from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the FAA’s Flight Standards Service and Air Traffic Organization, and the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee to review the technical content of the emergency response training for controllers. Pending our review of the workgroup’s analysis and its recommended improvements to ensure that controllers are equipped to help pilots in emergency situations, Safety Recommendations A-16-18 and -19 are classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is reviewing curricula to seek opportunities for technical updates or other improvements that will adequately address the identified issues. We are currently planning to convene a cross-organizational workgroup of subject experts from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the FAA' s Flight Standards Service and Air Traffic Organization, and the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee to collaboratively review the data and provide technical content and for additional recommendations to address these issues. We hope to identify several opportunities to enhance qualification training and proficiency training throughout the organization. Additionally, we believe the use of the recurrent training methodology may or may not be the best approach to addressing this matter. We will know better once the curricula reviews are completed and the workgroup has been convened to analyze the technical material. We plan to first identify all courses suitable for improvements by December 2016 and to convene the first cross-organizational workgroup by March 2017. I will keep the Board informed of the progress of these recommendations and provide an update by October 2017.
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