After Miscommunication, FAA Chief Leans Forward and Promises to Deliver Oft-Delayed Rule Dating Back to 1999
Buffalo, New York- February 15, 2013 – After a roller coaster 4th Anniversary trip to Washington which saw Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) deliver seemingly good news that a critical final rule on pilot training was on track to be completed by October, only to be followed hours later by an FAA briefing which pointed to a delay until June 2014, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ were elated to receive news of a letter from Huerta to Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) assuring that FAA and DOT would deliver by the originally-promised October date.
“For Administrator Huerta, a key member of the President’s team on this issue, to lean forward and make a promise like this in writing is a major deal,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year-old daughter Lorin. “When you talk about critical safety initiatives like robust stall recognition and recovery training as well as remedial training programs for lower-performing pilots, both NTSB safety recommendations stemming from our crash, a delay of nearly 15 years is absolutely unacceptable. Although you would think that these are common-sense programs and wouldn’t need to be mandated, we have learned the hard way that the Colgan Airs (the regional carrier operating Flight 3407) and Pinnacles of the world will only do the right thing like this if these programs are enshrined in federal regulations. Based on our group’s previous track record, you can be assured that we will be watching closely every week and every month, and we will make sure that everyone from the President to the next Secretary of Transportation is aware of this assurance that we have been given. And most of all, we look forward to the day this October when Administrator Huerta and the next Secretary announce the rule. It will mark another step forward in our journey to make sure that the mistakes of Flight 3407 are not repeated at the expense of another group of families and friends like us.”
The “Qualification, Service, and Use of Crewmembers and Aircraft Dispatchers” rulemaking, which has been in progress at FAA since 1999, was mandated by Congress to be completed by October 2011, and is already over 16 months overdue. At his Commerce Committee confirmation hearing last year, then-Acting Administrator Huerta was admonished by Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the chairs of the full and sub-committee, respectively, for FAA’s foot-dragging in failing to comply with Congress’s original deadline, and assured the senators that the Agency would be dedicated to completing the rule by the revised October 2013 deadline.
“Obviously our experience with FAA and the executive branch in general has shown us that deadlines are written in pencil, if not invisible ink, and more importantly that the agencies are extremely cautious in projecting completion of final rules,” stated Karen Eckert, of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister, Beverly Eckert, a noted 9/11 widow and activist. “So we are excited to learn from Administrator Huerta that the rulemaking team of FAA, the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, and the White House Office of Management and Budget are ready to bring this process to a close. It has been delayed by bureaucratic mishandling and industry obstruction for nearly 15 years now, and we all know that the flying public deserves better than that. We thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their hard work in securing this assurance on our behalf.”