Thune Amendment Viewed as Attempt to Weaken Current Standards

Buffalo NY, June 14th 2023-  With the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee meeting June 15th to consider the new FAA Reauthorization bill, the Families of Flight 3407 are reacting strongly  to an amendment proposed by Senator John Thune that would change the First Officer qualifications to allow actual experience in the cockpit to be replaced  with classroom time.

“It’s now been over 14 years since there has been a fatal commercial airline crash here in the United States” stated Scott Maurer of Palmetto Florida who lost his thirty year old daughter Lorin in the flight 3407 crash.  ” The safety law that was passed in 2010 and the enhancements to the First Officer qualifications  have been absolutely critical in achieving this.   This amendment weakens those qualifications by allowing new pilots to substitute flight hours with a few weeks of additional classroom time.  Time spent in a classroom can never be an adequate substitute for hours spent in a cockpit.  There is nothing in this amendment that will make the skies safer or pilots better.  The standards set in the 2010 legislation are working.   Yet the regional airlines continue to aggressively campaign for ways to weaken them, all in the interest of their bottom line. “

Since the passage of the Airline Safety Act of 2010, the family group has worked to resist  changes that would weaken any of the safety standards, including the First Officer qualifications which have been the target of well-financed lobbying campaigns.  With new FAA Reauthorization bills working their way through the House and Senate, the group has been diligently watching for any attempt to reduce the  standards that were established in the wake of the crash of Flight 3407.  

“It is absolutely critical that we keep the current standards in place”, stated  Karen Eckert of Williamsville New York,  whose sister and prominent 9/11 widow Beverly Eckert died in the crash.  “They have led to an unassailable safety record.   Nothing we can do will ever bring our loved ones back, but we are dedicated to making sure that what we experienced back in 2009 will not happen to anyone else.  Safety is a life and death issue.  We learned that in the most painful way that night in February 2009.  The mandates that were established in the 2010 legislation have resulted in zero commercial airline fatalities in the US.  Changing the First Officer qualifications to allow for a substitution of classroom training for actual experience in the cockpit lowers this standard.   We ask the members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to do the right thing and defeat this amendment.  “

Members of the family group will be in attendance as the committee meets at 10:00am, June 15th in the room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building.