Pilot Qualifications, Training Are Front and Center as Families Head to DC for 4th Anniversary of Crash
Buffalo, New York- February 6, 2013 – Just one week prior to the four year anniversary of the fatal 2009 regional airline crash, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ highlighted a recently-released Department of Transportation Inspector General report that was critical of FAA for not establishing final rules in critical areas of pilot qualifications and crewmember training as required by Congress in a 2010 landmark aviation safety law. With the initial Congressionally-mandated deadlines already missed and revised deadlines fast-approaching, the group called on President Obama and his team of Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, and Deputy Director of OMB Jeffrey Zients to step up and deliver on these safety reforms in 2013. “We don’t want to hear about how cumbersome the rulemaking process is,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year-old daughter Lorin.
“We don’t want to hear about how the airlines are fighting these reforms tooth-and-nail every step of the way. We knew all that going into this. But we saw that when DOT and FAA made a new rule on pilot flight and duty time limits a priority, that they were able to push through these very same challenges. And that is what needs to happen here. We are on the verge of two final rules that will greatly enhance the preparation of all first officers hired by regional airlines, and will ensure that regional airlines adhere to a more comprehensive approach to training their pilots, in critical areas such as stall recognition and recovery. Now we just need the leadership from FAA all the way up to the White House to make this a priority and push it through all the bureaucratic red tape to the finish line. And we are headed to Washington on the four year anniversary next week to continue to remind everyone of that.”
The group will travel to Washington next Tuesday and Wednesday to commemorate the four year anniversary of the crash as part of a continuing push for a true ‘One Level of Safety’ between the nation’s regional and major carriers. The group also cited the Inspector General’s concerns in the report (http://www.oig.dot.gov/sites/dot/files/Safety%20Act%202010%20Report%5E1-31-13.pdf) regarding FAA’s struggles in establishing a comprehensive electronic pilot records database, designed to ensure that carriers have access to a pilot’s complete training record in making hiring decisions.
“Certainly our focus is squarely on getting these critical rulemakings on pilot qualifications and crewmember training completed.” stated Susan Bourque, of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister, Beverly Eckert, a noted 9/11 widow and activist. “But while that foot-dragging is going on, we can’t take our eye off the ball when it comes to keeping the pilot records database project on track. We have said all along that we never want another family member to sit in on a congresional hearing and listen to a CEO testify that a pilot would not have been hired in the first place had all the information in the training record been available. This project cannot be allowed to get snagged by the typical governmental delays, and hopefully we can get Congress to sink its teeth into aggressive oversight on this process as well.”
Central to the anniverary visit will be a press conference and remembrance service, to be held on Tuesday in conjunction with the Western New York congressional delegation. The group is also hoping to meet with Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA-9), the new chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as with Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ-2) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA-2), the new Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Aviation Subcommittee. Details of those events are being finalized and will be released on Friday.