Buffalo, New York – February 12, 2023 – Fourteen years ago, on a Thursday evening, our loved ones boarded Continental Flight 3407 at Newark Liberty International Airport. They boarded that plane not just with their luggage and belongings, but with so much more… memories, hopes, plans, dreams… further contributions to this world just waiting to be made.
Today serves as yet another painful reminder that Flight 3407 never made it. And our world… and THE world… have never been the same because of it.
As difficult as it may be, there are still many reasons to smile today. Our loved ones’ legacies live on in scholarships and memorial events and so many other ways. Their vibrance and passion and love for their families and friends will always be fondly remembered and cherished. And as a testament to all of this, today marks the passage of yet another year, 5,113 days to be exact, without a fatal crash on a U.S. commercial passenger carrier. The safest period in our nation’s aviation history by well over a decade.
While we know all too painfully that this world does not stop for anything, we would be remiss if we did not reflect on and revisit the lessons of Flight 3407.
When our loved ones walked on that plane, they unconditionally placed their full faith and trust in every pilot, flight attendant, mechanic, ground crewman, air traffic controller, airline official, government employee, and so many others who played a role in ensuring that this flight, and hundreds of others that take off and land each and every day, would safely land at Buffalo Niagara International Airport just 53 minutes later.
Unfortunately that full faith and trust was blatantly betrayed. A slippery slope and over a decade’s worth of bread crumbs tracing all the way back to the aftermath of 9/11 came to roost that evening. Economic pressures leading to shortcuts and corner cutting. Slipshod hiring practices. Training programs that barely met the minimum federal requirements. A lack of investment and participation in top-of-the-line safety management programs. Poor working conditions that forced pilots and flight attendants to make lifestyle decisions that negatively impacted safety. Pressure on safety inspectors to look the other way. And rushing inexperienced pilots into the regional airline labor pool with a minimum of flight hours, in our case, just over 600.
So here we are, over a decade later, in the aftermath of an unprecendented pandemic. Corporate profits, and probably even more importantly CEO bonuses, are being threatened. What better time than now to invest millions in lobbying efforts in an attempt to convince decision-makers that the sky is falling unless swift action is taken. That this ‘solution in search of a problem’ is the right way to go for the traveling public and must be adopted post haste, or else.
Unfortunately for us, that rings so hollow. Our sky already has fallen. In memory of our loved ones, we resolve to continue this fight. To not fade quietly into the background. To keep marching back to Washington to make our voices heard. To make THEIR voices heard.
Yes, the voices of the victims of Continental Flight 3407. A group of talented, loving, and giving people. Forever in our hearts.