WNY delegation opposes efforts to scale back training requirements
In a letter to Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta, Congressmembers Brian Higgins, Louise Slaughter, Chris Collins and Tom Reed are calling on the FAA to maintain the more rigorous pilot training requirements recently implemented, despite pleas by some in the airline industry to relax qualifications.
The Western New York Congressmembers joined with local Flight 3407 families in pressing for reforms following the tragic crash in 2009. New guidelines for pilot qualifications, training and rest requirements were authorized through the Airline Safety and Aviation Extension Act of 2010.
However, some of the smaller regional airlines are attempting to evade the new rules. Members are seeking to maintain the "one level of safety" standard that guarantees adequate training and rest requirements for all commercial airlines, big and small.
Furthermore, the regional airlines seeking exemptions from these safety rules were the very same airlines that were found to have had the most serious safety deficiencies by the National Transportation Safety Board.
"We worked too hard, and local families lost too much, for us to sit back and watch while some in the industry attempt to sidestep the rules," Higgins said. "The flying public is safer today thanks to these reforms, and we intend to hold them to the law - for the good of all airline passengers."
"Flight 3407 was a preventable tragedy, and these families fought hard for legislation to improve training standards and prevent future tragedies," Slaughter said. "It is disturbing that the FAA is disregarding the law and ignoring the NTSB by allowing industry to create its own loophole to these training requirements. Every family that puts their lives in the hands of a commercial pilot - regardless of the size of the aircraft - should have the peace of mind that the pilot is properly trained."
"We will not stand by idly while airlines attempt to go around the rules and safeguards the families of Flight 3407 advocated to put in place," Collins said. "We learned a hard lesson in 2009, and have worked tirelessly the past five years to ensure those same mistakes are not repeated. Now is not the time to undo the progress that has been made."
Reed added, "The families of Flight 3407 worked tirelessly to prevent other families from losing loved ones. Circumventing new pilot training requirements potentially threatens the safety of passengers. These measures were put in place to protect and care for the flying public. We owe it to every passenger to stand up for these safety standards."