Family Group Lauds Him for His Leadership, Support on Landmark Aviation Safety Legislation
Buffalo, New York- December 19, 2012 – The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ applauded a letter (see text below) from Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL), the ranking member on the House Aviation Subcommittee, to FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta, calling on the agency to expeditiously issue the “strongest possible” final rule on entry level requirements for commercial airline first officers as an August 1, 2013 deadline fast approaches. With the issue drawing significant national attention of late due to an airline industry effort to weaken this critical safety initiative, the letter reiterates the importance of raising the bar for our nation’s regional airlines, as a means to achieve a true ‘One Level of Safety’ between the regional and mainline carriers.
“From the day this safety legislation was passed and signed into law, we have been adamant that it would only be as strong as the regulations that FAA puts forth as a result of it,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty-year-old daughter Lorin. “If completed, this initiative on qualifications requirements for first officers will serve as a significant step in upgrading the level of safety at regional airlines, because, as Congressman Costello so correctly points out, ‘the best safety device in any cockpit is a well-trained crew.’ Besides desiring a strong final rule in the interest of improving safety, Congressman Costello is right on in pointing out that time is of the essence for the certainty that it will provide to the entire industry in planning the road forward. Once again, we look to Acting Administrator Huerta and the FAA to step up to the plate and deliver for the safety of the flying public.”
With Congressman Costello set to retire at the end of this Congress, the family group praised him for his leadership and strong record on aviation safety, in particular for his role as one of the driving forces and chief architects of P.L. 111-216, the ‘Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010’. The legislation, which was unanimously supported in both houses of Congress and is considered the most significant aviation safety legislation to be enacted into law in the past 50 years, was designed to rectify the alarming gap in safety between the nation’s regional and mainline carriers, highlighted by the tragic crash of Continental (now United) Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air (now Pinnacle/Mesaba). In addition to strengthening the experience level of regional airline pilots, other provisions of the law sought to address deficiencies in the areas of pilot training, fatigue, and regional airline investment in best practice safety management programs – just some of the glaring safety deficiencies identified by a National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash.
“From the get-go back in the spring of 2009, Congressman Costello has been at the forefront of the effort to make sure that the lessons of Flight 3407 were fully learned, and more importantly addressed, so that hopefully no other families will be victimized by the mistakes and shortcuts that took the lives of our loved ones.” stated Susan Bourque, of East Aurora, New York who lost her sister, Beverly Eckert, a noted 9/11 widow and activist. “While he is certainly well-respected by all sectors of the industry, he has shown an admirable willingness to put safety ahead of all other considerations, and we will never forget the tough questions and high expectations that he put forth at numerous hearings, whether it be with the airlines’ executives, their lobbyists, or the FAA. While much work still remains to be completed, we cannot thank Congressman Costello enough for his role in advancing the cause of a true ‘One Level of Safety’.”
TEXT OF LETTER
December 19, 2012
The Honorable Michael P. Huerta Acting Administrator
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue S.W.
Washington, D..C 20591
Dear Acting Administrator Huerta:
Congress enacted the Airline Safety and Feferal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-216), which I was proud to help author, with the expectation that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would expeditiously comply with the bill’s mandates for rulemaking to ensure that airline pilots have a proper level of experience and are qualified to work effectively as members of a well-functioning, highly-proficient crew. The crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo, N.Y., was a tragic indication of the need for updated requirements in these areas. Although I was pleased that the FAA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in response to these mandates earlier this year, a final rule in respect of one of the mandates referenced in the NPRM is now overdue, and a final rule satisfying the other mandate will be overdue in August 2013.
I share your commitment to improving aviation safety, and I commend you and your predecessor for demonstrating that commitment in a number of safety-related initiatives over the past four years. In that spirit, the time has come for issuance of the strongest possible final rule on airline pilot certification and qualification requirements, in accordance with clear legislative mandates, and I respectfully urge the FAA to issue such a final rule as swiftly as possible. As you know, the best safety device in any cockpit is a well-trained crew. A final rule will provide certainty for pilots and airlines, improve safety, and save lives.
Jerry F. Costello
Ranking Member Subcommittee on Aviation