NTSB recommends automate FAA PTRS
To flag CFIs with suspicious pass rates
Internal SMS should be well received by data driven FAA
The FAA has adopted a philosophy that collection of relevant data is the most effective way to detect trends which might predict emerging safety problems. ASRS, ASIAS, ASAP, VDRP, FOQA, CAST and other data banks have proven to be valuable sources of predicting aviation issues. The focus of this discipline has been using information from users to help ferret out emerging potential risks, rank order them and then defining solutions in a collaborative process. The success of this new system has been highly touted.
The below article on a recent NTSB recommendation urges the FAA to improve the automation of the agency’s own the Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem (PTRS). The Board said:
“The NTSB asked the FAA to develop a system to automatically alert its inspectors of flight instructors whose student pass rates fall below 80 percent. Although a tracking system does exist to monitor pass rates, there currently is no automatic notification to an FAA inspector when a pass rate falls below the FAA-established rate of 80 percent and becomes substandard.
The FAA’s stated practices on flight instructor surveillance are that substandard pass rates are indicative of instruction that needs to be more closely monitored so the FAA inspector can determine whether the instructor is providing adequate flight training. The NTSB found, however, that even with the substandard student pass rate, the Mokuleia accident pilot’s flight instructor was not receiving appropriate additional scrutiny.
The NTSB also recommended that until a system that generates an automatic notification of flight instructor substandard pass rates is implemented, FAA inspectors should review flight instructors’ pass rates on an ongoing basis to identify any in need of closer monitoring.
The NTSB also asked the FAA to include substandard student pass rates as one of the criteria necessitating additional surveillance of a flight instructor.”
Given the FAA’s reliance on exactly this sort of information, one would expect that the Board’s recommendation will be soon automated.
January 7, 2021
Image: Dennis Oda / Honolulu Star Advertiser
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a set of recommendations to the FAA intended to increase scrutiny on flight-instructor performance. Using the 2019 crash of a parachute-jump Beech King Air in Hawaii as the impetus, the NTSB’s latest recommendations ask the FAA to more closely watch pass/fail rates of students from any given instructor to help detect sub-par training. The June 2019 accident resulted in 11 deaths, including the pilot, after the Oahu Parachute Center King Air impacted terrain shortly after takeoff.
The NTSB said that the “accident pilot had failed three initial flight tests in his attempts to obtain his private pilot certificate, instrument rating, and commercial pilot certificate after receiving instruction from a single instructor. The pilot subsequently passed each flight test. The … accident pilot was not alone in his failed attempts; the pass rate for other students taught by the same flight instructor was 59 percent (for the two-year period ending in April 2020). FAA data show the average national pass rate for students of all flight instructors is 80 percent.” According to NTSB documents, the accident pilot trained with Ritter Aviation in Torrance, California.
The instructor operated a Beech C90GTx out of Torrance and, according to the NTSB documentation, “During his initial flight training, the accident pilot logged about 53 hours in the King Air C90GTx airplane, but this time was logged during flights that included extended cross-country commercial Part 91 operations conducted with passengers in the cabin. In addition, the flight time was primarily logged as dual instruction while the accident pilot was still a student pilot. Thus, the flight instructor had provided training that the accident pilot could not have been expected to fully comprehend as a student pilot, and the flights were most likely conducted by the flight instructor with the accident pilot sitting in the copilot seat.”
The NTSB admitted that while a system does exist to track pass/fail rates from specific instructors, it lacks an automated component to alert CFIs when their students fall below the FAA’s 80% threshold. A pass rate below 80% is considered “substandard.” The NTSB contends that the accident pilot’s sole instructor “was not receiving appropriate additional scrutiny” for his charges’ low pass rates.
The recommendations from the NTSB and the FAA are as follows:
- Develop a system to automatically notify your inspectors of those flight instructors (within each inspector’s geographic area of responsibility) whose student pass rate in the Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem (PTRS)has become substandard so that the inspectors can perform additional surveillance according to the guidance in Order 8900.1, Flight Standards Information Management System, volume 6, chapter 1, section 5, “Surveillance of a Certificated Flight Instructor.” (A-20-40)
- Until the system proposed in Safety Recommendation A-20-40 is implemented, direct your inspectors to (1) review the Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem on an ongoing basis to identify those flight instructors (within each inspector’s geographic area of responsibility) with a substandard student pass rate and (2) provide additional surveillance of those instructors according to the guidance in Order 8900.1, Flight Standards Information Management System, volume 6, chapter 1, section 5, “Surveillance of a Certificated Flight Instructor.” (A-20-41)
- Revise Order 8900.1, Flight Standards Information Management System, volume 6, chapter 1, section 5, “Surveillance of a Certificated Flight Instructor,” to include flight instructors with a substandard student pass rate as one of the criteria necessitating additional surveillance of a flight instructor. (A-20-42)
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