Buffalo, New York- December 9, 2009 – Members of the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ strongly condemned the prepared statement of FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, to be delivered at Thursday’s Senate Aviation Subcommittee’s oversight hearing on the FAA’s Call to Action safety Initiatives, coming out against a Congressional initiative to mandate higher experience requirements for all commercial airline pilots.
“Administrator Babbitt has been sending not-so-subtle hints about his and the administration’s position on this issue for the past few weeks now. On one hand, I guess it is good that the lip service is over and everything is finally out in the clear,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his only daughter Lorin in the crash. “But after listening to the rhetoric from the DOT all summer that this administration was going to put the passenger first, and that cost would not be allowed to come in the way of safety, how can you not be devastated by this when you think of the price we have all paid? We have learned that the regional airline executives have been lobbying Congress and the adminsitration hard in the past few weeks against this ATP requirement, and once again it looks like corporate lobbying dollars are going to win out over the average citizens.”
Maurer was referring to safety legislation passed in the House by a 409-11 margin, introduced in the Senate by Senator Chuck Schumer (NY), and strongly supported by the family group, that would significantly raise the minimum qualification requirements for commercial airline pilots, from the current Commercial Pilot License (CPL) requiring 250 flight hours, to an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) License, requiring 1,500 flight hours and numerous other qualitative requirements.
“The Obama adminsitration sure has not been doing us any favors of late,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister Beverly Eckert. “The FAA Reauthorization Bill was reported out of the Commerce Committee on July 21, and thanks to the administration’s push on health care, has not moved an inch since then. Then we watch as FAA rulemaking efforts on new fatigue and training regulations continue to slide to the right to the point no one can give us a good target date. And now Adminstrator Babbitt says he is ‘looking at’ ways to ‘enhance’ the existing certificate structure, instead of going with a known commodity like the ATP? Based on recent performance, that sounds like a six-to-eight year project at best. How many crashes for the regional airlines is it going to take before our government does something? Evidently six in a row is not enough.”
The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ are in Washington for Thursday’s hearing, chaired by Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, for a meeting with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and to visit with the members of the New York Congressional delegation.