Buffalo, New York- October 8, 2009 – The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ hailed the recent introduction in the Senate of S.1744, a bill that would significantly upgrade the qualifications required of commercial airline pilot by mandating that they hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license prior to being hired.
The provision, which has already been introduced in the House and holds bipartisan support from the leadership of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer (NY), and has already been co-sponsored by fellow New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Joe Lieberman (CT), and Senator Patrick Leahy (VT).
This was the third bill introduced by Schumer and co-sponsored by Gillibrand in response to the tragic crash of Continental Flight 3407. “Thanks again to our home state Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, what a great feeling it is knowing we have a part in making changes happen and letting our voices be heard,” stated Justine Krasuski of Cheektowaga, New York, who lost her husband, Jerome, in the tragedy. “Every passenger deserves experienced and well-trained pilots in the cockpit, and the higher standards that this bill calls for will help to make sure that this happens.”
Senator Lieberman had worked closely with Connecticut resident and Flight 3407 passenger Beverly Eckert in her campaign for the formation of the 9/11 Commission in the wake of the loss of her husband, Sean Rooney, in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center. “Senator Lieberman’s support is very meaningful in that it recognizes Beverly’s tireless efforts in bringing about change after a tragedy, which unfortunately is exactly the situation that we now find ourselves in,” stated Karen Eckert, Beverly’s sister. “More importantly, Senator Lieberman is recognized as someone who looks at issues based on their merits, regardless of the politics involved, we feel that aviation safety is not a Democrat or Republican issue; hopefully this will be recognized by all senators as they consider this and other critical safety measures.”
Not even a month after the Flight 3407 accident, another Colgan Air Q400 plane bound for Burlington, Vermont, experienced a similar stall incident from which the pilots were able to recover. “Besides being such a long-standing and well-respected member of the Senate, Senator Leahy’s support underscores that the issue of regional airline safety is not just a New York and New Jersey issue; it has ramifications nationally,” stated Kevin Kuwik, who lost his girlfriend Lorin Maurer in the crash. “We are extremely appreciative of Senator Leahy’s support of this bill.”
The bill, which would include more stringent academic and flight testing requirements, as well as increase the minimum required flight time for commercial pilots from 250 to 1,500 hours, could be considered as an amendment when the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act goes to the Senate floor.
“We do not see this provision as a cure-all for all the problems that came into play with Continental Flight 3407,” stated Scott Maurer, father of Lorin Maurer. “However, we do feel that it represents an important step in forcing the regional airlines to step up to the plate and invest in their pilots. We appreciate the support of these senators, and look forward to working closely with the Commerce Committee and Aviation Subcommittee members, who have been very receptive to date in our efforts to improve the standards of the regional airlines.”