Buffalo, New York- February 2, 2010 – The determined efforts of the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ to raise minimum experience and qualification requirements for all commercial airline pilots, particularly at the regional level, gained significant support with the addition of Senators Robert Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Kerry (D-MA), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) as co-sponsors to a key aviation safety initiative that the family group is advocating for.
In the aftermath of the tragic crash of Continental Flight 3407 outside Buffalo last February, S.1744, Enhancing Flight Crewmembers’ Training Act, a bill sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and already co-sponsored by Senators Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), would require that all commercial airline pilots hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) License prior to being hired. Along with additional academic testing requirements and other qualitative measures, the bill would significantly raise the minimum flight time required of commercial pilots from the current shockingly low minimum of 250 hours to 1,500 hours, essentially an additional twelve to eighteen months of training prior to being entrusted to transport large numbers of people.
“This is a long overdue measure, and it is heartbreaking that it took a tragedy like ours to get action on this critical issue,” declared Cindy Saltzgiver, who lost her daughter Kristin Safran of Bradford, Pennsylvania. “Our family’s heartfelt thanks goes out to Senator Casey for stepping up to the plate on our behalf, and we dearly pray that the rest of the Senate will quickly follow suit.”
“We can’t say enough how much we appreciate Senators Collins and Snowe demonstrating that aviation safety is a nonpartisan issue,” stated Karen Eckert of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister Beverly Eckert. “Senator Snowe was a trailblazer in announcing legislation last summer aimed at addressing the gaps in safety that exist with the regional airlines, and clearly Maine is a state that is very dependent on regional air service. Hopefully the support of Senators Collins and Snowe will send a message to the industry that this is not an issue that is just going to go away.”
“Along with Senator Snowe, Senator Kerry is a member of the two committees that we are counting on – the Commerce and Finance Committees,” added Mike Quimby, who lost his father-in-law,Brad Green, Sr., in the crash. “We are hopeful that receiving the endorsement of someone of his stature will help give this bill another nudge on the path to being adopted on the Senate floor, preferably sooner rather than later.”
The family group continues to press for the FAA Reauthorization Bill, which includes many Flight 3407-related safety provisions, to be considered on the Senate floor. Yet the Bill remains stuck in neutral in the Senate Finance Committee, under Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT). “As we approach the one year anniversary next week, Senator Baucus could really answer our prayers by having his committee take up this bill, as we have been waiting patiently since last July,” added Eckert. “We are also waiting for some leadership from the Obama administration in weighing in on behalf of the ‘little people’ like ourselves, and encouraging the Senate Leadership to bring the bill to a vote; to say that our patience is wearing very thin is an understatement.”