Proposed Two-Year Delay and Five-Year Period to Comply Will Pose Significant Safety Risk
Buffalo, New York- June 26, 2012 – Responding to Thursday’s Senate confirmation hearing for Michael Huerta, President Obama’s nominee as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and the current acting Administrator, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ praised Senators John D. ‘Jay’ Rockefeller (D-WV) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) for their relentless questioning of Huerta on the FAA’s recently-announced delay in instituting Congressionally-mandated new requirements for airlines’ pilot training programs. The group called on Huerta, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and the Obama administration to pick up the pace on implementing the critical safety rule that was supposed to be completed in October 2011, and was recently pushed back by the Administration until October 2013.
“While he clearly supported Mr. Huerta’s nomination, we appreciated Chairman Rockefeller’s message of ‘Do not mistake kindness for weakness’ in making it clear that he was not pleased with FAA’s foot-dragging with meeting this unanimously-supported requirement by Congress,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister and noted 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert. “The previous Aviation chairman, Senator Dorgan, was tenacious in holding the FAA and the industry responsible for higher standards at the regional airline level, and it was great to see Senator Cantwell take the same approach in zeroing in on this unacceptable delay as well. The message to acting Administrator Huerta was loud and clear: a two year delay on a unanimous, bipartisan congressional safety mandate focused on a critical area like pilot training is absolutely unacceptable. Hopefully the FAA, DOT, OMB and the powers-that-be at the White House got the message loud and clear.”
The group called on FAA and the Administration to live up to Huerta’s pledge to Rockefeller to ‘provide the resources to get this done as quickly as possible’, in reference to a process which dates back to 1999 and has already included industry input from a rule making advisory committee and two rounds of proposed rules with comment periods. In 2010, Congress unanimously passed the Airline Safety Act, which required FAA to complete this final rule by October 1, 2011.
“We are talking pilot training here, probably the single-most important determinant of safety, and an area in which the system blatantly failed our loved ones on that tragic night,” declared Scott Maurer, of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty-year old daughter Lorin. “All we are asking of FAA is to execute what Congress unanimously directed it to do by October 2011, not October 2013. When you tack on giving the airlines five years to comply with these crucial safety improvements on the back end, every day that passes – let alone two full years – is an invitation for another needless tragedy to occur. Since 1999, there has been an understanding from everyone in the industry that these pilot training guidelines need to be revamped and modernized, and it is long overdue for FAA, DOT, and the White House to push past industry stalling and step up for the safety of the flying public.”