Buffalo, New York- September 16, 2009- Mike Loftus, who lost his twenty-four year old daughter Madeline on Continental Flight 3407 and is a former commercial airline pilot, will testify on behalf of the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407′ at the House of Representatives’ Aviation Subcommittee’s hearing next week.
The hearing, to be held at 10:00 am on Wednesday, September 23rd in Room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building, will focus on “The Federal Aviation Administration’s Call to Action on Airline Safety and Pilot Training.”
“First and foremost, the goal of my testimony is to remind those in government and in the aviation industry of the loved ones that we lost in this horrible tragedy,” stated Loftus. “They are why we have pushed the way we have pushed, and we owe it to their memory to do all we can to make sure something like this never happens again to another group of families.”
Continental Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, crashed into a home in Clarence Center, New York, on the evening of February 12th, 2009, taking the lives of all forty nine people and an unborn baby on board, as well as a man in the home it crashed into. The National Transportation Safety Board’s public hearing on this accident, held in May, revealed numerous deficiencies in the regional airline industry, as well as issues with training and pilot fatigue among others.
“Clearly the training these pilots received in stall recovery and cold weather operations left much to be desired, and the transcript left no doubt about the fact that they both were tired,” Loftus added. “As a former pilot, Administrator Babbitt is well aware of these long-standing issues, and it is imperative that he see the rulemakings on enhanced Crew Training and revised Flight and Duty Time regulations through to completion as part of this Call to Action.”
Loftus also hopes to spotlight some of the key provisions included in aviation safety legislation recently introduced in both the House and the Senate. “When it comes to the aviation industry, my years of experience give me zero confidence in voluntary compliance by the airlines,” stated Loftus. “We are counting on Congress to mandate these crucial changes, including a comprehensive pilot training record database for use in the hiring process, and mandatory safety management systems to include critical programs like FOQA and LOSA.”
Loftus concludes, “Lastly, we applaud the House for its provision requiring all pilots to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) rating prior to being hired to fly commercially. This carries a requirement of 1,500 hours of flying time, significantly higher than the current FAA standard of 250 hours. When I was hired as a regional pilot, I had over 6,000 hours of flying time, and it is unacceptable that we are allowing pilots to fly with human lives in their hands in the back of their plane with comparatively so few hours of experience.’