Families Revisit May 2010 Meeting with President
Buffalo, New York- September 13, 2011 – With Senator Chuck Schumer at their side, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ announced Tuesday that they were sending a letter (text included below) to President Barack Obama, calling on him to deliver on the assurances he gave group members at a May 2010 meeting in Buffalo, New York. The letter comes at a critical juncture in the group’s fight for higher aviation safety standards, as the airlines and their lobbyists attempt to obstruct the enactment of an update to our nation’s fifty-year old flight and duty time regulations for pilots.
“Our minds and our hearts go back to our meeting with the President in May 2010,” stated John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty-four year old daughter Ellyce. “At the time we were struggling to get Congress to take action to address our aviation system’s shortcomings when it comes to ‘One Level of Safety’. The President was very clear in saying that while he could make no promises in terms of Congress taking action, that every agency under his jurisdiction would do everything in its power to address these grave safety issues. While Secretary LaHood, Administrator Babbitt, and their respective agencies have made many positive strides to this point, we are now at the moment of truth with this flight and duty time rule making. Once again, the industry is attacking a safety initiative with all its might; Mr. President, please get involved with OMB, DOT, and FAA – all of them under your charge – and come through for the flying public and our loved ones.”
In the aftermath of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the group also revisited the tribute that President Obama paid Flight 3407 victim Beverly Eckert shortly after her death. Beverly lost her husband Sean Rooney in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center, and became a driving force behind the Voices of 9/11, an advocacy group of the victims’ families who fought for a thorough investigation of the security deficiencies that allowed 9/11 to occur.
“Mr. President, you met our beloved sister Beverly just one week prior to this tragedy,” stated Karen Eckert of Williamsville, New York. “In the hours after her death, our family took great solace as you recognized her for her diligent efforts in fighting for the truth to be brought to light about what allowed 9/11 to transpire. We were heartened by your declaration that she was an inspiration to you and to all Americans. Mr. President, as we try to walk in her footsteps and push for a wrong to be righted, please honor her memory and our perseverance as citizen-advocates by putting safety ahead of corporate greed, and pushing through this critical safety initiative.”
TEXT OF LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
September 13, 2011
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We write to you as the families and friends of those who were lost when Continental Flight 3407 crashed outside of Buffalo, New York on February 12, 2009. For the past thirty months we have fought diligently to achieve a true ‘One Level of Safety’ in our nation’s aviation system, which was sadly denied to our loved ones when they boarded Flight 3407 operated by Colgan Air. Today we ask for your intervention as the Federal Aviation Administration struggles to issue a long-overdue final rule to update our nation’s antiquated pilot flight and duty time regulations.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into Flight 3407 exposed a multitude of deficiencies, in particular shining a bright light on the issue of pilot fatigue. This critical issue has been at the top of the NTSB’s Most Wanted List for twenty years, and multiple efforts to address it the past two decades have been repeatedly defeated by intense industry opposition. As a result of our persistent efforts on Capitol Hill, last Summer Congress unanimously passed H.R. 5900, ‘The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010’ (P.L. 111-216), which you signed into law on August 1, 2010. A cornerstone provision to this law was Congress mandating that the FAA issue new science-based fatigue regulations by August 1, 2011.
Despite being the stated top priority of Secretary LaHood and Administrator Babbitt, that deadline has come and passed, as the industry has once again mounted heavy pressure on the Office of Management and Budget in an attempt to stall this crucial safety initiative.
Mr. President, we hearken back to our meeting with you in Buffalo in May 2010. While you made no promises regarding Congress’s efforts at the time to pass an FAA Reauthorization Bill with safety provisions included, you gave us your strongest assurances that within your domain of the executive branch, everything possible would be done to achieve this elusive ‘One Level of Safety’.
As this historic safety reform now sits squarely between FAA, DOT, and OMB, we call on you to use your influence to push your executive agencies to get this done for the safety of the entire American flying public, as well as in honor of the memory of our loved ones.
The Families of Continental Flight 3407