Victims’ Families Fight to Counter Industry Resistance to Critical New Pilot Fatigue Regulation
Buffalo, New York- September 12, 2011 – With the Federal Aviation Administration now six weeks late in meeting Congress’s mandate to issue a new pilot flight and duty time regulation, members of the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ will be in Washington on Tuesday to push for action from the White House. In addition to meeting with the White House Office of Management and Budget, where the fatigue safety reform is currently being held up, the group has scheduled a major announcement for late Tuesday morning on Capitol Hill.
“Obviously this was an emotional weekend for our family as we remembered Sean and Beverly and the tragic impact that 9/11 had on all of us” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, referring to her sister and prominent 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert, who lost her husband Sean Rooney in Tower 2. “While we do not have an army of six-figure lobbyists at our disposal to twist arms over at the White House, Beverly’s persistence and passion in fighting for what was right inspires us to be vocal and to keep the pressure on the White House. Our only recourse is to keep our issues as visible as possible, so we feel that we have no choice but to come to Washington on Tuesday and underscore what is at stake and who needs to step up to the plate. At the end of the day, actions speak a lot louder than words.”
In addition to the late-morning announcement on Capitol Hill (details will be forthcoming), members of the group will meet with officials from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the division of the White House Office of Management and Budget responsible for reviewing the proposed new regulation. Group members are expected to press for quick action in issuing the final version of the regulation, which FAA has been struggling to complete off and on for nearly twenty years. In the aftermath of the Flight 3407 tragedy, both Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt declared this initiative to be their top priority. Since late July, however, lobbyists representing the airlines have held five meetings with White House officials, seemingly gaining traction in stalling this regulation.
“We certainly can’t match the airlines when it comes to their expensive studies and slick presentations,” added John Kausner, of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty four year old daughter Ellyce. “And they certainly do have a proven track record over the years of obstructing safety initiatives like this when they get in the way of the industry’s bottom line. But what we have is a law passed by unanimous consent in both houses of Congress, a miracle in and of itself these days, directing the FAA and this Administration to get this done. And even more importantly, we have the memories of Elly and all of the victims, serving as a stark reminder of what happens when we allow shortcuts to be taken when it comes to safety. We pray that someone on Pennsylvania Avenue is not just hearing us, but hopefully listening to what we are advocating for as well.”