Only 18 Days Until August 1st Deadline
Buffalo, New York- July 13, 2010 – Members of the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ continued to show their determination in getting Congress to pass the FAA Reauthorization Bill with recess-week trips to West Virginia and Minnesota, targeting the home states of Senator Jay Rockefeller and Congressman James Oberstar, the key players in the bill’s final negotiations. Meanwhile, the group also announced that members would be in attendance at this Wednesday’s House Aviation Subcommittee hearing, to be held at 2 p.m. in Room 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.
In Charleston, West Virginia, the group made its plea for Senator Rockefeller to support the House’s provision requiring all commercial airline pilots to have Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) licenses, citing West Virginia’s exclusive reliance on regional carriers notorious for hiring pilots right out of flight school at salaries less than $20,000 per year. First Officer Jeff Skiles, the co-pilot in last year’s famous ‘Miracle on the Hudson,’ joined the group to make the case for more experience in the cockpit at regional airlines.
‘I saw firsthand when Senator Rockefeller was our governor that when he made his mind up about something he could make it happen,’ stated Albert Stephenson of Wheeling, West Virginia, who lost his sisters Dawn Mossop and Ferris Reid, his brother-in-law Donald Mossop, and his twelve-year-old nephew Shawn Mossop in the crash. ‘Now we need him to come through with these higher pilot qualifications and getting this bill passed so that another family never has to feel the pain of losing four loved ones like we have.’
From Charleston, the group headed north to Congressman Oberstar’s 8th Congressional District in Minnesota, sharing an emotional meeting with family members of a plane crash there back in 1993. That flight, Northwest Airlink 5719, also operated by a regional carrier Express II Jet, went down on December 1, 1993, on approach to Chisholm-Hibbing Airport, taking the lives of all eighteen on board. That crash bore a startling resemblance to Flight 3407, with poor airline oversight of its pilots’ performance records and training program being cited as contributing to the crash.
‘We can’t say thank you enough to the families of Bill Valeri, Robert Tiburzi, Craig Sterle, and Tony Trujillo for joining us to show their support,’ stated John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty-four-year-old daughter Ellyce. ‘With what FAA regulation was not able to accomplish in the aftermath of the tragedy of Flight 5719, I know it would give them great comfort for Chairman Oberstar to get these regional airline safety measures achieved legislatively. Just as with us, they never want to see more families have to join this sad club.’
Wednesday’s House Aviation hearing will be held by subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello of Illinois’s 12th District, who was instrumental in the passage of the House’s comprehensive regional airline safety bill, H.R. 3371, back in October.
‘I remember meeting with Congressman Costello in the Capitol right after the passage of the safety bill, and his promise to us that if we could move the Senate to pass an FAA Bill, that a final bill would get done,’ stated Karen Eckert of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister and prominent 9/11 widow and activist Beverly. ‘It ended up taking nearly ten months since last May, meetings with the offices of eighty-eight senators, and everything short of moving heaven and earth to get the Senate to do it, but we finally succeeded. And now, if there’s any justice for what all of our families have had to endure since February 12th, 2009, this bill will be passed by August 1st and we will have brought something positive out of this tragedy.’