Flight 3407 Victim Beverly Eckert Learned That FAA, Government Did Nothing Despite Being Warned for Over 30 Years
Buffalo, New York- September 9, 2011 – Since losing their sister and 9/11 widow Beverly Eckert in the crash of Continental Flight 3407 in February 2009, her sisters Karen Eckert and Susan Bourque have been key members of the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’, fiercely advocating for stronger aviation safety measures. As the ten year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, they drew parallels between the FAA’s long-time inaction on cockpit security which contributed to 9/11, and its current struggles in issuing a long-overdue new regulation on pilot flight and duty times.
“As she began her fight to find answers about why 9/11 was able to happen, Beverly’s immediate focus was on how the terrorists were able to get into the cockpits” stated Karen Eckert of Williamsville, New York. “To find out that pilot unions had been testifying before Congress as far back as 1969 about the need for anti-hijacking measures such as more effective cockpit door locks, and yet nothing was done by the FAA or the government for over thirty years, was absolutely devastating. It just makes you shake your head and ask yourself, ‘How many lives does it take for the government to take a threat seriously?'”
Beverly Eckert 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 advocate group that pushed for the formation of the 9/11 Commission and for the adoption of the recommendations in its report. Her efforts served as an inspiration for her sisters and others in fighting to improve the safety deficiencies in the nation’s regional airlines that were exposed by the crash of Flight 3407, which ultimately led to the passage by unanimous consent in both Houses of H.R. 5900, the “Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010′. Unfortunately, one of the cornerstone provisions of the law, a requirement for the FAA to issue a new regulation to fight pilot fatigue by August 1, 2011, is currently stalled at the White House Office of Management and Budget, as it faces fierce resistance from the airlines. The FAA’s attempts to issue this regulation date back to the early 90’s, and it has been at the top of the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Safety Recommendations for over twenty years.
“The sad thing about the cockpit security issue is that after 9/11 it took only four months for the FAA to publish new cockpit security standards and require all existing planes to be retro-fitted with enhanced cockpit doors,” added Susan Bourque, of East Aurora, New York. “And yet here we go again down that same dangerous road. Another life should not have to be lost in a plane crash with fatigued pilots to get this new flight and duty time regulation issued. Clearly the airlines are content to turn their lobbyists loose, bully the Administration and all its agencies, and obstruct this critical safety rulemaking as they have been for the past twenty years. In the memory of Beverly and everyone else lost in a plane crash due to pilot fatigue, we call on President Obama, Secretary LaHood, and Administrator Babbitt to step up and follow through on what they have been directed to do by Congress. Twenty years of inaction is absolutely unacceptable.”