May 17, 2005
Pilots: NTSB FedEx 647 Findings Ignore Major Training Issues
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The following statement was issued by Capt. Gary Janelli, the MEC Vice Central Air Safety Chairman for the FedEx pilot group of the Air Line Pilots Association at the conclusion of the National Transportation Safety Board FedEx 647 Sunshine Meeting held today.
"The Air Line Pilots Association is disappointed with some of the National Transportation Safety Board's findings. The FedEx 647 accident, like most aviation accidents, was the result of a combination of many factors, including strong gusting winds and differences in aircraft operation that were not accounted for in training programs.
"FedEx now requires training flights on both the MD-10 and MD-11 aircraft during initial training, but no requirement exists to ensure a pilot maintains current experience in both aircraft versions after that time. For example, the F/O in this accident was conducting only her third landing in an MD-10 in approximately seven months. Her most recent MD-10 landing had taken place two days prior to the accident, but all of her other recent flights were made in MD-11 aircraft. Pilots should be required to maintain experience in both the MD-10 and MD-11 aircraft or simulators on an ongoing basis.
"Just prior to the introduction of the MD-10 into service, the pilots at FedEx expressed concern about operating the MD-10 and MD-11 as a single type rating.
"The handling characteristics of the MD-11 are different from those of the MD-10, and the FedEx 647 pilot did not have recent experience on the MD-10. While the MD-10 and MD-11 are a common type rating, the MD-11 has a longer wing, a longer fuselage, a different flight control system, and a smaller horizontal tail. The handling characteristics are different enough that recent experience is a must.
"In addition, FedEx 647 highlights that Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) requirements at airports must be the same for all aircraft, regardless of whether a passenger or cargo carrier is involved. Some cargo aircraft are configured to carry as many as 27 non revenue passengers, many of whom could be seated in the rear section of the aircraft. This accident is an important wake-up call that ARFF emergency response, evacuation training and equipment are equally important on cargo as well as on passenger aircraft.
"The Air Line Pilots Association also takes strong exception to the Board's conclusion that impugned the judgment of the pilots on board. At no time did any pilot action delay the evacuation of the aircraft."
ALPA, chartered by the AFL-CIO in 1931, is the union that represents 64,000 airline pilots at 41 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Its website is at www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACTS: John Mazor, Linda Shotwell (703) 481-4440