Rulemakings on Training and Pilot Qualifications; Pilot Record Database; Commuting Loom as Key Issues
Buffalo, New York- March 20, 2012 – With group members set to attend Tuesday’s Senate Aviation Subcommittee hearing on Commercial Airline Safety Oversight, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ renewed their push for the Federal Aviation Administration to follow through on the key remaining safety initiatives from the landmark aviation safety legislation passed in August 2010. This plea comes on the heels of continued industry pressure, from both major and regional carriers, to obstruct efforts related to raising standards in the areas of pilot training and entry level hiring qualifications, the creation of an electronic training records database, as well as gathering further information regarding the potentially dangerous practice of pilot commuting.
“Oversight hearings like this are absolutely critical in the process,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister and noted 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert. “As time passes, the voices of the little people like us are drowned out, as the well-oiled industry lobbying machine kicks in. Hopefully this hearing will help keep the FAA focused on doing the right thing, as we are potentially months away from completing some key rulemaking projects that will go a long way towards raising the safety bar for our nation’s regional carriers. And when it comes to the initiatives regarding commuting and the pilot records database, we know that the stakeholders like the airlines and the pilots would prefer the status quo, to leave things as they are. We are here to make sure that no one forgets that the status quo is exactly what created the conditions for Flight 3407 to occur.”
As this hearing takes place, four rulemaking projects are currently in various stages of completion between FAA, the Department of Transportation, and the White House Office of Management and Budget. These projects deal with crewmember training, pilot certification and qualification requirements, the investment in safety management systems by commercial airlines, and crewmember mentoring and professional development.
“When it comes to achieving a true ‘One Level of Safety’ between major and regional carriers, our message has consistently been to ‘Put the best pilots in the cockpit, and set them up for success’,” declared Scott Maurer, of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty-year-old daughter Lorin. “These four rulemakings will all have a significant impact on making that dream a reality. However we cannot take our foot off the gas pedal, as there is a rulemaking dealing with crewmember training that has been in progress since March 1999. And then there is a proposed rule on pilot qualifications where we know that the regional airlines are going to fight tooth and nail to water down the requirement for at least 1,000 flight hours prior to getting hired to fly people’s loved ones for a commercial airline. We are counting on Secretary LaHood, Administrator Huerta, and Administrator Sunstein to stay the course and do the right thing for safety.”
Tuesday’s hearing will be held at 2:45 p.m. in Room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building, and family members will be available for comment before and after the hearing.