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NTSB Wants FAA to Improve CFI Tracking

In response to the 2019 fatal crash of a Beech King Air in Hawaii, the National Transportation Safety Board has issued a set of recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration to increase scrutiny on flight-instructor performance.  The NTSB wants the FAA to do a better job of watching the pass/fail rates of students from any given instructor to help detect sub-par training.  Eleven people, includingthe pilot, died in the June 2019 incident after an Oahu Parachute Center King Air impacted terrain shortly after takeoff. 

The NTSB wrote 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.” 

The NTSB said that a system does exist to track pass/fail rates from specific instructors, but the system lacks an automated component to alert Certified Flight Instructors when their students fall below the FAA’s 80 percent threshold.  Pass rates below 80 percent are considered “substandard.”  NTSB officials believe that the accident pilot’s sole instructor “was not receiving appropriate additional scrutiny” for his students’ low pass rates.

The NTSB has recommended the following actions for the FAA:

  • 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 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)