While draft reauthorization legislation for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not currently include changes to the aviation safety reforms made since the crash of Flight 3407, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) said threats to flight safety remain with potential amendments circulating that would dismantle requirements under current law.
The current FAA authorization will expire at the end of September. The House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee are both meeting this week to debate changes to the legislation.
Some in the airline industry are pressuring lawmakers to water down the first officer pilot qualification rule, which requires a co-pilot to attain 1,500 hours of flight time.
Higgins joined his Western New York colleagues and the families of Flight 3407 to speak out against attempts to dismantle flight safety. He also made the following remarks on the House Floor:
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“Mr. Speaker: Eight years ago, Western New Yorkers witnessed tragedy due to inadequate pilot training. A poorly trained pilot crashed a commercial jet into a neighborhood in our community, ending the lives of those on board and one on the ground. Since then, the victim’s families of Flight 3407, who suffered unimaginable loss on that day, have turned their grief into powerful citizens’ fight to strengthen pilot training and flight safety rules.
“The families of Flight 3407, who are here today, led the charge urging Congress to pass landmark flight safety legislation in 2010, including rules that could have prevented the tragedy they all suffered. Since then, there have been seven years of no fatal commercial crashes on domestic U.S. airlines.
“Now the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization is nearing and some want to beat back this tremendous progress.
“Let’s be clear, what is being proposed is a rule change that will allow less experienced pilots to fly commercial jets again. The safety of the flying public should never be compromised again. I am prepared, along with the Western New York Delegation and with the 3407 Families to protect these reforms once again, because we know the painful lessons of accepting anything less.”
Between 1990 and 2010, prior to passage of the new flight safety rules, passenger airline accidents led to more than 1,100 fatalities. Since approval of the Airline Safety Act in 2010, there have been no passenger airline deaths in the United States.