Regional Airline Pilots Scheduled to the Max; Desperately in Need of New Scheduling Limits
Buffalo, New York- December 7, 2011 – Facing a third Christmas season without twenty-four year old Ellyce Kausner, who had been a law student at Florida Coastal School of Law, her family issued a plea to the Obama administration, particularly Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, to end two decades of government gridlock and issue a critical new rule to fight pilot fatigue prior to this Christmas. Their appeal comes as part of the Flight 3407 Families ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ campaign, aimed at highlighting key elements of the family group’s push for ‘One Level of Safety’ for all passengers traveling on the nation’s regional airlines, which account for over half of all flights flown in the United States.
“Elly would have been 27 on the 13th of December. Her birthday was always an occasion for the whole family to gather for cookie baking and to decorate the tree. Now we take a tree to the cemetery and remember our beautiful and vibrant girl. The sadness is overwhelming at this time of year,’ said her parents, John and Marilyn Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost their daughter just 1 mile away from their family home. “Our group has fought long and hard for landmark legislation to address so many of the safety deficiencies at Colgan Air that allowed this crash to occur. Now we are counting on the Administration, particularly DOT, FAA, and OMB, to come through and deliver on the reforms that have been unanimously directed by Congress. Reducing pilot fatigue has been at the top of the NTSB’s Most Wanted List for as long as it has been in existence, and safety advocates have been fighting for this new flight and duty time rule since the early 90’s. Pushing past the industry resistance and finally getting this initiative implemented would go a long way towards ensuring that another family doesn’t have to be missing their baby daughter every holiday season. We pray that acting Administrator Huerta will not drop the ball on this and other key safety reforms during this period of transition at FAA.”
The new fatigue guidelines were a key element of PL 111-216, ‘The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010’, which mandated an August 1, 2011 release for a new science-based final rule, a deadline which has already come and gone. Currently, regional airline pilots can land the last flight of the evening, and can have as little as eight hours from the plane pulling up to the gate until taking off the very next morning, making a restorative night’s rest all-but-impossible. The Administration has been under heavy pressure from all sectors of the airline industry, citing economic objections, to water down its proposed new guidelines.