NTSB Investigation Revealed That Colgan Air Did Not Utilize All Safety Managment Programs Used by Continental
Buffalo, New York- December 13, 2011 – With another empty Christmas approaching, the family of acclaimed jazz musician and Chuck Mangione Band member Coleman Mellett begged for the Obama administration, particularly Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, to meet the Congressionally-mandated August 1, 2012 deadline for a final rule on safety management systems. These best practice programs, which seek to avoid accidents by identifying potentially dangerous trends and addressing them in a preventative manner, are not federally mandated, and consequently, not as frequently employed by regional airlines as by their parent carriers.
“Christmas is such a difficult time for our family; we have such wonderful memories and Coley is a big part of them. We remember the Christmas songs that he would play, and how he would change the words to make them funny, we remember how he loved giving and receiving gifts, and most of all, we remember just how he loved being with his family. Every day, but especially this time of year, we find ourselves missing his humor and passion for life,” shared his mother, MaryEllen Mellett of MacLean, Virginia. “As we face yet another Christmas without Coley’s presence, we pray that the FAA will deliver what Coley and his fellow victims did not receive, a true ‘One Level of Safety.’ If a state-of-the-art safety program like FOQA or LOSA is good enough for the parent carrier like Continental or United to use, then every passenger boarding one of their regional partners like Colgan or Pinnacle or Mesaba deserves the exact same commitment to, and investment in, safety. Furthermore, these programs should be mandatory rather than voluntary. There is too much at stake safety-wise to allow a fly-by-night regional airline to be tempted to delay or avoid implementing these programs to save a few dollars. That is a lesson that our family unfortunately had to learn the hard way.”
Achieving a true ‘One Level of Safety’ between the major airlines and their regional airline partners has been the driving goal of the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’. The glaring lack of investment in these best practice safety programs by Colgan Air at the time of the crash was severely exposed at the NTSB public hearings held in May 2009, and was one of the key areas that Congress sought to address with the passage of PL 111-216, ‘The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010.’ However, objections from many stakeholders caused Congress to stop short of requiring key programs like FOQA and LOSA, despite proposed legislative language that would have required them while providing strong privacy protections.
This push for safety management systems comes as part of the Flight 3407 Families’ ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ campaign, aimed at putting a human face on the various ‘One Level of Safety’ initiatives required by PL 111-216, many of which face intense, and often behind-the-scenes, industry opposition due to the costs associated with them.