Call on Biden Administration to Increase Scrutiny of Regionals, Finalize Pilot Record Database
Buffalo, New York – May 20, 2021 – In response to a CNN report detailing Envoy Air, American Airlines’ largest regional carrier, receiving a safety warning from the Federal Aviation Administration addressing 9 separate safety incidents in 2019 and 2020, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ called on the Biden administration and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to step up its vigilance of all regional carriers in the United States. The group also challenged the administration to finalize the rulemaking on the long-overdue Pilot Record Database, which has now been nearly 10 years in the making.
“We have been saying all along that complacency is the enemy,” declared Scott Maurer of Palmetto, Florida, who lost his thirty year old daughter Lorin, an athletic department fundraiser at Princeton University. “As we learned the hard way, there is such a temptation to take shortcuts when it comes to maximizing an airline’s bottom line, let alone with the unique circumstances that have been presented as a result of the pandemic. If this many near-misses are occurring at one of the largest and most robust regional carriers, it should worry all of us about what might be happening at Endeavor or Mesa or some of the smaller regional carriers. This should be a wake-up call for the FAA and every stakeholder in the commercial airline industry to be more vigilant than ever when it comes to their entire safety operation, otherwise we will be setting ourselves up on the same slippery slope that took our daughter from us.”
The CNN report (https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2021/05/19/business/american-airlines-envoy-air/index.html) highlighted an FAA document sent to Envoy detailing ‘consistent evidence showing potential lack of airmanship’ by flight crews in nine different instances, including one at a regional airport in Illinois where pilots were on a heading to land on the wrong runway, only to realize their mistake and divert at the last second.
“We have worked closely with Administrator Dickson and his team at FAA for the past 2 years, but they can only push things so far,” stated Ken Mellett of McLean, Virginia, who lost his thirty-four year old son Coleman, a jazz guitarist in the Chuck Mangione Band. “The bottom line is that safety in general, and aviation safety in particular, needs to be a priority of Secretary Buttigieg, as well as the entire Biden administration. While it may not ever qualify as the most exciting issue out there, countless families like ours have paid the ultimate price when safety is overlooked. Most importantly, actions speak louder than words, so what is actually done in the upcoming months will be the true test of this commitment, and we will be watching closely.”
The family group also called attention to what has become nearly a decade-long pattern of foot-dragging by FAA, the Department of Transportation, and the Office of Management and Budget when it comes to the implementation of a comprehensive, electronic pilot record database. This initiative is a mandate from a 2010 safety law that sought to give regional airlines more complete and transparent access to a pilot’s training history when being considered in the hiring process. Colgan Air, the regional carrier operating Flight 3407, was not aware of numerous failed check rides by the captain of Flight 3407 when it initially hired him.
“Over the past 12 years, our mantra has been ‘Put the Best Pilots in the Cockpit and Set Them Up for Success'”, stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister and noted 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert. “The pilot record database is probably the most common-sense, least controversial aspect of the 2010 safety law, and would go a long ways to ensuring that the best possible pilots do end up in the cockpits of these regional carriers flying all of us and our loved ones around the country. And yet here we are, all these years later, and it still hasn’t been pushed over the finish line. That is simply unacceptable, and reflects poorly on all 3 administrations that now have had a chance to work on its implementation. Hopefully the Biden administration can step up to the plate and get this over the finish line, preferably sooner than later.”