Family Group Reiterates Unanimous Congressional Approval of Aviation Safety Bill

Buffalo, New York- December 11, 2012 – In the face of a recent media campaign by the airline industry attempting to undermine the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) implementation of a unanimously-supported Congressional requirement to raise entry-level hiring qualifications for first officers at regional airlines, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ praised Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger’s recent letter to the editor (text is included below) of the Wall Street Journal in defense of the higher standards. With the FAA required to issue a finished product by next August, the family group continued its push for the FAA to finalize the rule and not give in to industry pressure to further weaken the proposed higher requirements.


“Once again, who better to listen to regarding the importance of experience in the cockpit and regional airlines not sacrificing safety for their bottom line,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty-year-old daughter Lorin. “In one of the most adverse situations possible, the experience of Captain Sullenberger and his First Officer Jeff Skiles allowed them to come through in saving the lives of their passengers and crew. Additonally his years of experience in the industry allow him to re-focus this debate on what exactly is at stake here – making sure that regional airline passengers receive the same commitment to and investment in safety as those who fly on the major carriers. We thank him for his passionate support of this and other issues that will ensure that there one day is a TRUE ‘One Level of Safety’ among all commercial airlines.”

Sullenberger, who is known for safely landing a US Airways plane on the Hudson River in 2009, emphasizes in the letter the importance of higher experience requirements to ensure that entry-level first officers at regional airlines are exposed to the many variable conditions that they will encounter in the commercial airline environment, prior to being entrusted with the lives of the passengers in the back of their plane. He also reiterates the evidence of the past 10 years, which shows that the last six fatal commercial crashes have all occurred on regional airlines. And he calls out the industry for attempting to manufacture a pilot shortage crisis to get the FAA and Congress to relent on fully executing the law.

“Ever since we started coming to Washington in May 2009, it has been a constant struggle to make sure that our government does the right thing for safety in the face of constant industry attempts to preserve the barest minimum of standards,” stated Karen Eckert, of Williamsville, New York who lost her sister, Beverly Eckert, a noted 9/11 widow and activist. “This landmark aviation safety legislation was unanimously passed by both houses of Congress because there was a collective recognition that a drift was occurring between the safety standards at the regional carriers versus that of the majors. The flying public has been waiting for well over two years for FAA, DOT, and OMB to work their way through this and other new critical safety requirements, missing deadline after deadline. We cannot stand silent and allow our loved ones and the victims of other regional airline crashes to be forgotten. We appreciate Captain Sullenberger’s vivid reminder of that fact, and his insistence on adhering to the highest standards of safety.”