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With Key Safety Rules Hanging in the Balance, Flight 3407 Families to Attend Foxx's Senate Confirmation Hearing on Wednesday PDF Print E-mail

Families Call on Obama Administration to Stand Up to Airlines' Pressure to Water Down Regional Airline Safety Reforms

Buffalo, New York- May 21, 2013 – With the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in a sprint to finish one key regional airline safety measure by August 1st, and a second by mid-October, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ announced that they would be present at Wednesday’s Senate Commerce Committee confirmation hearing for Mayor Anthony Foxx.

"There is no doubt that the airlines are employing every trick in their lobbying playbook to find the weakest link at FAA, DOT, or OMB and get them to agree to water down these proposed regulations in their favor,” declared Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year-old daughter Lorin in the crash. “Over the past few decades, trade associations like Airlines for America and the Regional Airline Association have been the undisputed heavyweight champions when it has come to taking on safety advocacy groups like us and finding a way to obstruct the rulemaking process. As Mayor Foxx potentially enters the fray here at the eleventh hour, you can be sure that he has already heard, or will be hearing, from multiple industry henchmen that the sky is about to fall for the airlines if these new regulations are allowed to be implemented in the strongest manner intended by Congress. Hopefully, he follows the lead of his predecessor Secretary LaHood and puts safety first, ensuring that passengers on regional airlines receive the most highly-qualified and well-trained crew possible. If only Colgan/Pinnacle/Continental/United would have done the same for Lorin.”

The two rules under consideration are the ‘Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements’ rulemaking, as well as the ‘Qualification, Service, and Use of Crewmembers and Aircraft Dispatchers’ rulemaking. The former, which will significantly enhance both the qualitative and quantitative requirements for a First Officer to be hired by a regional airline, is currently at OMB, and must be published by August 1st. The latter, which will provide a much-needed update to the FAA's requirements on how regional airlines train their pilots, is now 20 months overdue, and targeted for completion by October 21st. It is still at FAA, and is scheduled to be sent to DOT on June 3rd.

"In light of the extensive delays that have already occurred with these rulemakings, this is certainly not the ideal time for transition to be occurring at DOT," stated Karen Eckert of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister and prominent 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert. “The objectives of FAA and DOT have historically been muddled by the so-called ‘dual mandate’ of regulating safety while at the same time promoting the growth of the aviation industry in the United States. Safety costs money, and there is always going to be some industry resistance when it comes to implementing stronger safety regulations, in this case geared towards the regional airline industry. Hopefully Mayor Foxx is able to grasp the significant gap that still exists in our quest for a true ‘One Level of Safety’ between our nation’s mainline and regional carriers, and provide true leadership in seeing both of these rulemakings completed in not only a timely, but also the strongest, manner possible.”

Wednesday’s confirmation hearing for Mayor Foxx will he held at 2:30 p.m. in Room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building, the hearing room for the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It will be led by Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Ranking Member Sen. John Thune (R-SD).

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