Buffalo, New York- October 21, 2009 – The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ criticized the recently released letter from the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), representing many of the nation’s major airlines, to the House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leadership. In the letter, the ATA stated its opposition to the House’s recently-passed aviation safety bill, namely the provision requiring all commercial airline pilots to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license.
The provision, which would significantly raise the both the quantitative and qualitative requirements to be a commercial airline pilot, has also been introduced in the Senate by Senator Chuck Schumer (NY), along with fellow New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Joe Lieberman (CT), and Senator Patrick Leahy (VT).
“We are talking about fifty lives needlessly lost in this accident, and trying to make air travel safer at the regional airlines for passengers all over the country from North Dakota to South Carolina, and instead the major airlines choose to focus on their economic bottom line, which is the main reason we are in this predicament in the first place,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his daughter Lorin in the tragedy. “If Continental and the other major airlines placed this type of scrutiny on their regional partners like Colgan in the first place, it islikely we would never even be having this discussion.”
The provision, introduced by the ‘Big Four’ of the House committee, Rep. James Oberstar (MN), Rep. Jerry Costello (IL), Rep. John Mica (FL), and Rep. Tom Petri (WI), would boost the required number of flight hours for a commercial airline pilot from the current minimum of 250 hours to 1,500 hours, and additionally carry requirements for additional academic testing, check flight experiences, and operation in a variety of conditions including cross-country, nighttime, adverse weather, and high altitudes.
“This issue is about much more than just a number of flight hours. We are talking about more quality preparation before pilots are placed in a situation where human lives are in their hands in the back of their plane,” added John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his daughter Elly. “It would be nice to see Congress and the Obama Administration take the side of the passengers here, and send a strong message to the industry that it needs to do a better job of setting its pilots up for success.”
James May, the President and CEO of the Air Transport Association, signed this letter of opposition, and the major airlines whose position he is representing are Air Tran, Alaska, American, Continental (the parent carrier responsible for Flight 3407), Delta, Jet Blue, Midwest, Southwest, United, and US Airways.