Buffalo, New York- July 29, 2010 – With both the House and Senate positioned to finally pass much-needed aviation safety legislation on Thursday, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ implored Senate Republicans to continue the broad bipartisan support that the group’s advocacy has attracted in the aftermath of the needless tragedy of Flight 3407.
“These crucial provisions have enjoyed nearly unanimous bipartisan support throughout the process,’ stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister and noted 9/11 activist Beverly Eckert. ‘The House passed H.R. 3371, which constitutes the backbone of this safety title, by a 409-11 margin last October, and the Senate passed its version of the FAA Reauthorization Bill, with very similar language, by a 93-0 vote in March. As we have walked the halls day after day in recent weeks pushing for the passage of the overall bill, while some Senate Republicans have expressed reservations over provisions regarding labor or slots or higher fees, there has been a constant refrain of, ‘We are fully supportive of your group and these safety measures.’ So now is the time for each of these members to step up to the plate for their constituents who fly every day, and in particular, those who are counting on regional airlines to provide a true ‘One Level of Safety.”
In making their plea to the Senate Republican caucus, the group also praised some of the numerous members who have distinguished themselves with their support for safety along the way.
“Let’s start out with our push for higher minimum qualifications for the hiring of commercial airline pilots,” stated Karen Eckert of Wialliamsville, New York, another sister of Beverly Eckert. “We owe so much to Senators Snowe, Collins, Risch and Scott Brown for co-sponsoring Senator Schumer’s legislation and sending a strong message to the industry that passengers on regional airlines have just as much right to an experienced crew in the cockpit as those flying on the major carriers. In terms of the Senate Republican leadership, the staffs of Senators McConnell and Alexander have maintained a steady dialogue with us along the way and have been very receptive to our concerns. And we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize Senator Hutchison for her diligent efforts on behalf of safety throughout the process, and the spirit of bipartisanship that she has consistently displayed.”
The original vehicle for these safety measures, the FAA Reauthorization Bill, has stalled once again over non-safety related issues including landing slots at Reagan National Airport. Consequently, the House has signalled that it will attach the safety measures, which have been agreed upon by both houses in conference, to the upcoming FAA extension that must be passed by August 1st.
“Make no mistake about our disappointment with some members who have prevented us from achieving a full reauthorization with a strong safety title, which would have set a tremendous precedent,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year old daughter Lorin. “However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that these critical safety mandates really needed to be sent to the FAA months ago, to allow us to turn our focus to the FAA and its implementation of these directives. While we realize that this method is not the preferred way to move legislation like this, we need the entire Senate to keep its focus on what’s truly important here – safety – and making sure that our loved ones did not die in vain.”