Hersman, NTSB Declare Shuster Amendment Poses Significant Threat to FAA Safety Rulemakings

Buffalo, New York- April 21, 2011 – In light of the national attention on recent aviation safety lapses due to air traffic controllers falling asleep during their shifts, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ highlighted the ongoing conference process on the FAA Reauthorization Bill as a referendum on aviation safety. In particular, the group is focused on the Shuster amendment, which seeks to protect certain carriers from stronger FAA regulations which are in progress as a result of ‘The Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act’, landmark aviation safety which was signed into law last August in the aftermath of Continental Flight 3407 and the regional airline safety issues that it exposed.

“As the horrible tragedy of Flight 3407 fades from some lawmakers’ memories, we have a powerful reminder that we cannot take our eye off the ball when it comes to aviation safety,” stated Karen Eckert of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister Beverly, a noted 9/11 widow who fought for reforms on the Hill for six years after she lost her husband in the World Trade Center. “Whether it be controller or pilot fatigue, aircraft maintenance, or regional airline safety, we cannot afford to let our guard down. The deliberations between the House and Senate on the FAA Bill will be a telling indication of where Congress’s priorities lie in terms of safety versus corporate interests, as the various sectors of the aviation industry try to pressure Congress into going easy on them. That is exactly the path that was taken with regional airline oversight prior to Flight 3407, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure we do not allow history to repeat itself.”

The group also applauded a letter from National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman to Congress which stated the NTSB’s position that the Shuster Amendment would ‘increase the time required to complete rulemakings, thereby delaying key measures to improve safety,’ and in particular jeopardize the critical soon-to-be-released new regulations on pilot flight and duty times.

“Sadly we have found that Regional Airline crashes occur every few years,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, SC, who lost his 30-year old daughter Lorin on Flight 3407. “The window of opportunity to correct many of the problems learned from Continental Flight 3407 is drawing closed because of bureaucratic roadblocks like the Shuster amendment. It is clear to me that Public Safety is a distant second priority in Washington behind profits and costs. We thank Chairman Hersman for her support against this amendment; we know that we can always count on her and her agency to put safety first, and in particular to stand up for a True ‘One Level of Safety’.”