Group to Mark February 12th with Press Conference, Remembrance Service, Door-to-Door Congressional Outreach
Buffalo, New York- February 4, 2013 – With the FAA fast approaching “revised” deadlines on already past-due final rules on pilot qualifications and crewmember training, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ announced that they will be journeying to Washington next Tuesday, February 12th, to commemorate the four year anniversary of the crash. In addition to extensive outreach to the recently-seated 113th Congress, the group will be conducting a press conference and remembrance service with members of the Western New York congressional delegation.
“On the first anniversary we marched the ten miles from the crash site to the airport,” stated John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty-four year-old daughter Ellyce when the plane crashed less than a mile from his home. “Each year since the crash we have remembered our loved ones with a candlelight vigil at the crash site at 10:17 p.m. But as we hit year four, and as the industry continues to throw the kitchen sink at the FAA in the hopes of stalling or watering down these critical safety initiatives, we feel the need to remind everyone in Washington, from FAA to DOT to OMB to both houses of Congress, that the job is far from done. The spirit of Elly, and all the other wonderful people who perished that evening, demands that these rulemaking projects be completed, and there is no better time than right now.”
The overdue rulemaking on pilot qualifications, which will significantly enhance the entry-level requirements for regional airline first officers, faces a critical August 1, 2013 deadline. The crewmember training final rule, already 16 months past due, is now targeted to be issued in October of 2013. These critical final rules are both expected to significantly equalize the commitment to and investment in safety between the nation’s regional and major carriers. The last six fatal commercial airline crashes dating back to 2004 have all occurred on regional carriers.
“As a new Congress begins, with even more members who were not present in February 2009 when this needless and preventable tragedy occurred, the burden falls on our group to continually remind the flying public that just because your ticket says United on it, and the plane you board is painted in United colors, that you very well may be actually be flying on Pinnacle or Mesaba or Colgan.” stated Karen Eckert, of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister, Beverly Eckert, a noted 9/11 widow and activist. “It is imperative for us to do everything in our power to narrow the safety gap between regional carriers like Pinnacle and their major partners like United. The best way to honor our loved ones is to continue to fight to ensure that the mistakes of Flight 3407 are not allowed to repeat themselves, so that no other parent, spouse, sibling, family member, or friend is forced to know the pain that we do. So we go again to Washington to remind FAA, DOT, OMB, and the White House itself how much we are counting on them to see these rulemakings through to fruition.”
Specifics in terms of times and locations are still being finalized and will be announced later in the week. The group members have plans to reach out to the new members of the Aviation Subcommittees in both Houses, in particular the new leadership of the House Aviation Subcommittee, led by Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ-2) and Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA-2).