Call Out Another Industry Play for Behind-the-Scenes Influence on Administration on Pilot Fatigue and Other Safety Initiatives

Buffalo, New York- September 21, 2011 – As a critical pilot fatigue safety initiative flounders at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ lashed out at the Airline Transport Association’s (ATA) recent announcement that it had appointed Sean Kennedy, formerly White House Special Assistant to the President, to the position of Senior Vice President Global Government Affairs.

“We say we have a representative form of government, but is it representing ordinary people like us or simply those with the most money or the right connections?,” asked John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty-four year old daughter Ellyce in the crash of Flight 3407. “We have done everything possible as citizens to have our voices heard by our government, including over forty trips to Washington at our own expense. But how can we compete when we do not have any plum, six-figure salary, senior vice president positions to offer to someone who probably has all the top OMB officials on speed-dial? No wonder there’s been a non-stop parade of airline lobbyists over at OMB for the past month. Strategic moves like this hire are exactly how the airlines have been able to successfully obstruct critical safety initiatives like this fatigue rule for the past 20 years, and we’re here to shine the light of day on this arrangement and say that this is not right.”

The family group also connected the dots with a recent Wall Street Journal article which raised the issue of the airline industry being given extra time to fight the pilot fatigue rulemaking thanks to a procedural move this summer by the Department of Transportation in sending its proposed final rule over to OMB. This delay flies in the face of the new flight and duty time initiative being the stated top priority of Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

“We appreciate what has been done to this point, but we are at a crossroads – either this final rule gets issued or everything is for naught,” declared Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year old daughter Lorin. “The airlines are quick to complain about being burdened by these regulations, but that doesn’t wash with us. They have had free reign for the past twenty years and all that has gotten for us are needless tragedies like Flight 3407, and a glaring gap in safety between the major and regional airlines. When some legislation doesn’t go their way for a change, what do they do? They hire one of the President’s right hand men to get inside access to the White House and try to grind everything to a screeching halt. Clearly they have gained some traction here, so we are publicly calling on the President and his Administration officials to stand up to this industry maneuvering and do what is right for the safety of the flying public.”