Family Group Challenges Both Candidates to Stand Up for Safety as Industry Pours Over $35 Million into Lobbying, Campaign Contributions
Buffalo, New York- October 30, 2012 – With the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation scheduled to issue two critical new safety regulations affecting pilot training and entry level pilot hiring qualifications in the next twelve months, the ‘Families of Continental (now United) Flight 3407’ called on President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to achieve a true ‘One Level of Safety’ among the nation’s major and regional airlines if elected. Highlighting the $35 million spent by the airline industry on lobbying in this two year election cycle, with $3 million of that representing campaign contributions (www.opensecrets.org), the family group drew a sharp contrast between the resources available to safety advocates and the airlines themselves.
“Although we have been forced to wait patiently while the dust settles from this election, make no mistake that our focus has not wavered one bit on seeing through to completion the implementation of the landmark aviation safety law that we fought for,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty-year-old daughter Lorin. “These two regulations are absolutely critical in ensuring that our nation’s regional carriers deliver the same high standard of safety as the major carriers, something that Lorin and the other victims unfortunately did not receive the benefit of. Obviously the airline industry continues to fight tooth-and-nail behind the scenes to delay and water down these regulations as much as possible. Throughout this campaign, we have seen both President Obama’s and Governor Romney’s families on television, and ask them to imagine the loss of a daughter or son in a preventable airline crash. We call on each to stand up to the airlines and their lobbyists and support strong regulations that will ensure that no other families have to suffer the horrible loss of loved ones like we have.”
The FAA is facing a busy schedule in the upcoming months regarding its implementation of the ‘Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010’ (P.L. 111-216). In addition to issuing already-overdue final rules on First Officer Qualifications (scheduled for May 17, 2013) and Pilot Training (target date of October 21, 2013), the agency also is behind on rulemakings addressing Safety Management Systems as well as Pilot Mentoring, Professionalism, and Professional Development. Meanwhile, the airline industry continues to work against these initiatives on a number of fronts, not the least of which involves spending large amounts of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions.
“It doesn’t take a lot of reading between the lines to figure out which elected officials the airlines are targeting and who they feel that they can count on,” stated Karen Eckert, of Williamsville, New York who lost her sister, Beverly Eckert, a noted 9/11 widow and activist. “Regardless of how much more money the airlines and their lobbyists spend in an attempt to gain influence, they will always come up short to groups like ours because our motive has and will always be pure and simple: Safety First. Thirty five million dollars and all the high-powered lobbyists in the world cannot come close to equaling the love and determination that we show for Beverly and the other victims every day that we continue to fight for stronger safety measures. When the smoke clears after this election, we are counting on the White House and Congress to stand up for the American people and deliver these long-overdue new safety rules.”