Western New York Delegation Calls on FAA to Move Swiftly on Air Safety Regulation Implementation
On the fourth anniversary of the crash of Continental Flight 3407, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23), and Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue to make implementation of airline safety reforms a top priority. Specifically, the Members ask for timely implementation of provisions on pilot qualifications and crewmember training – regulations that are both long overdue and that would remedy one of the most serious errors contributing to the Flight 3407 crash.
“In the years since this tragic plane crash, we have made great strides in reforming airline safety, thanks in large part to the efforts of the victims’ families,” said Congressman Higgins. “The best way to truly honor their hard work and the memory of their loved ones is to push forward on the implementation of these final rules and make sure that we are doing all we can to ensure that a tragedy like this never occurs again.”
“This was a tragedy that truly shocked us all in Western New York, and when we saw that it could have been prevented with more training and better regulations, we got to work,” said Congresswoman Slaughter. “There have been some improvements in airline safety since the crash, but until we implement these final rules and stop the sequester from drastically cutting the FAA, we still have lots of work to do to protect the lives of future airline passengers and honor the victims of this tragedy.”
“On this fourth anniversary of the crash of Flight 3407, our commitment to airline and pilot safety remains ever-strong,” said Congressman Reed. “I join my Western New York colleagues to continue the fight on behalf of those who lost their lives in the crash of Flight 3407 and I commend the families and loved ones of the victims for keeping aviation safety in the forefront. With full implementation, these reforms will be a proactive step toward preventing future tragedies.”
“The flying public deserves what the victims of Flight 3407 did not get that fateful night – well qualified and trained pilots,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “There is no excuse for the FAA to continue to drag its feet in the implementation of the new safety regulations championed by Flight 3407 families and passed by Congress. On this fourth anniversary, we remember all those who died that night and extend our gratitude to their families for fighting so hard to make sure their loved ones did not die in vain.”
Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed in Clarence Center on February 12, 2009 claiming the lives of everyone onboard and one person on the ground. Since then, the Families of Flight 3407 and the Western New York delegation have committed to reforming airline safety regulations. In August 2010, Congress passed new flight safety reforms through the “Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010.”
This is not the first time that the Western New York delegation has urged the FAA to follow through on implementation of the regulations passed in the August 2010 law. Most recently, in November 2012 the delegation wrote to the FAA
with their concerns about their unacceptably slow pace of the rulemaking process.
The text of the letter is below:
Dear Administrator Huerta,
On the eve of the 4th anniversary to the fatal crash of Colgan Air-operated Continental Express Flight 3407 in the community of Clarence Center in Western New York, we urge you to renew the call of the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act to fully and heartily implement that law to ensure one level of safety to proactive prevent any such crash from happening in the future. We urge you to move swiftly to implement these crucial reforms and to specifically implement two important rules on training, screening, and qualifications this year. The Department of Transportation Inspector General highlighted the challenges FAA faces toward implementation, and we urge you to heed these challenges toward full and complete implementation of the law.
We are specifically concerned about a lack of expeditious progress on implementation of two provisions that are long overdue – pilot qualifications and crewmember training. On pilot qualifications, the law requires all Part 121 pilots to hold an Airport Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. Your original deadline to implement this provision was August 2012, and we are disappointed by your delay toward introducing a final rule on this issue. We expect you to hold to a deadline of August 2013. Finalizing this rule is critical as it would remedy one of the most significant errors leading to fatal crashes like Flight 3407 – the issue of pilot error.
And on the issue of crewmember training, a final rule will now be more than two years overdue from the initial deadline if your agency holds to its revised deadline. While we respect your agency’s desire to be deliberative, various forms of this role have been discussed since 1999, so we believe that there is a sufficient impetus to craft a final rule. Improving crewmember training procedures is essential and we know that by requiring the use of flight simulation devices for flight crew members, mandating that all training is performed in a full flight crew environment, and by including additional training and evaluation requirements for all crewmembers and aircraft dispatchers, we can assertively help prevent emergency situations that lead to lost lives.
The inclusion of the comprehensive set of aviation safety reforms into Public Law 111-216 was to ensure that the flying public was subjected to one level of safety across carriers. We will stay vigilant on your implementation schedule until the goals established in that law are reached.