Comment Period Closed Monday on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Buffalo, New York – July 1, 2020 – With Monday’s closing of the comment period for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Pilot Record Database, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ submitted their group’s comment and called on Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson to move quickly to finalize the rule and start the clock on bringing the industry into full compliance with it. The group cited the National Transportation Safety Board’s December release of information from its investigation of the fatal Atlas Air/Amazon cargo crash back in February 2019 which revealed that the first officer was hired by Atlas without a full review of his previous training record, which included multiple failures and washouts at three regional carriers (https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-air-atlas-crash-pilot-unsafe-ntsb-2019-12).
“This requirement for a pilot record database was signed into law nearly 10 years ago, and every day that passes without it being fully operational presents a safety risk when any pilot hire is made,” declared John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty-four year old daughter Ellyce when the plane crashed less than a mile from their family home. “In this day and age of modern technology, it is unfathomable that an airline must rely on faxes and snail mail, and cannot access a pilot’s complete license and training history at the touch of a button. It was heartbreaking to learn that the pilot who was flying my daughter was hired without a thorough review of his record, and for history to repeat itself 10 years later with Atlas is an absolute travesty. We call on Secretary Chao and Administrator Dickson to guide this database to the finish line at warp speed, and we promise to provide them constant reminders.”
In the group’s comment (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FAA-2020-0246-0723), it called on the FAA’s rulemaking team to strengthen the proposal’s reporting requirements for carriers who perform their pilot training under an Advanced Qualifications Program (AQP) model, after the NTSB raised concerns that numerous training events would not be included in the database.
“This database is only going to be as strong as the data that it contains, and we echo the NTSB’s concerns that a significant loophole exists here,” stated Scott Maurer of Palmetto, Florida, who lost his thirty-year-old daughter Lorin in the crash. “Loopholes being exploited is what caused Lorin and all of our loved ones to pay the ultimate price. We are counting on Secretary Chao and Administrator Dickson not to give in to any stakeholder pressure to water down these reporting requirements, to ensure that this database is as robust as possible.”
Finally, the group issued a warning about the current economic hardships facing the industry in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, drawing parallels to the challenges that the industry faced in the aftermath of 9/11.
“For as tragic as Flight 3407 was, it truly has brought about landmark safety change for our nation’s regional airlines and the airline industry as a whole – over eleven years without a fatal crash,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister and prominent 9/11 activist Beverly Eckert. “Now we are driving to the goal line to complete the final element of the law – the pilot record database. However we would be remiss if we did not draw a parallel from the dire financial straits that the industry finds itself in right now to where it found itself after 9/11. The economic distress that resulted from 9/11 pushed the airlines down the slippery slope of outsourcing and cost-cutting, which gave rise to the regional airlines and bottom feeders like Colgan who took every shortcut possible and did the bare minimum when it came to safety. It is our hope and prayer that this painful lesson remain in the forefront of the minds of every stakeholder and government official, lest we allow history to repeat itself.”