Wants FAA to Set New Generation of Regional Airline Pilots Up For Success

Buffalo, New York- December 28, 2011 – Three holiday seasons after they lost their father and husband in the crash of Continental Flight 3407, the family of Darren Tolsma called on Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to continue forward with a rulemaking covering the critical areas of pilot mentoring, professional development and leadership training. This rulemaking project also includes a key component of sterile cockpit training, one of the glaring issues revealed by the NTSB’s post-crash analysis of the cockpit voice recorder.


“Darren would always insist on watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation while putting up our tree, and we would have to listen to him, in his terrible singing voice, sing to every Christmas song. I miss that, I miss him. While it looked like I wrapped presents blindfolded, he was known for his perfectly-wrapped gifts,” shared his wife Robin. “For me, the hardest part of Christmas is hanging his stocking. For my son, daughter, and myself, each Christmas brings back haunting reminders that this tragedy was completely preventable. We no longer have a host of former military pilots to fly our commercial flights, so it is absolutely critical that we do everything in our power to prepare captains and first officers at the regional airline level to perform their duties as professionally and as safely as possible. This rulemaking effort will go a long way towards setting up entry-level first officers and newly-upgraded captains for success.”

The NTSB investigation into Flight 3407 found breakdowns in the crew’s coordination and adherence to cockpit procedures, and led to calls for a renewed emphasis on professionalism and leadership training for commercial airline pilots. The family group’s push for action on this rulemaking is part of their ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ campaign, aimed at highlighting key elements of their ‘One Level of Safety’ campaign for all passengers traveling on the nation’s regional airlines, which account for over half of all flights flown in the United States.