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Higgins, Collins, Slaughter, Reed press transportation committee leadership to hold firm on flight safety


Thu, Feb 4th 2016 08:40 am

FAA bill released and now under debate in Congress

Congress members Brian Higgins (NY-26), Chris Collins (NY-27), Louise Slaughter (NY-25) and Tom Reed (NY-23) are continuing their united fight against attempts to diminish flight safety progress as Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization legislation is introduced and now under consideration in Congress.

The Aviation Innovation Reform & Reauthorization Act (AIRR Act) was introduced in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, as Congress works to meet the March 31 deadline for FAA reauthorization. Some regional airlines are attempting to use reauthorization as an opportunity to roll back pilot qualification rules. As the House and Senate begin debate on the issue, Higgins, Collins, Slaughter and Reed are writing to committee leadership in opposition to these attempts.

 In their letter, the members wrote, "We write to express our opposition to the inclusion of any provisions that seek to undermine the pilot qualification rule, which requires a first officer to attain an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, typically achieved through 1,500 hours of flight time.... The carefully crafted pilot qualification standards are a critical component towards the achievement of 'One Level of Safety' between all major and regional carriers. We respectfully ask that you continue to demonstrate your strong commitment to aviation safety by withstanding industry pressure and maintaining this vital rule intact."

After the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Western New York on Feb. 12, 2009, the National Transportation Safety Board identified serious safety deficiencies within the regional airline industry, including exhausting schedules, inexperienced pilots and insufficient training.

Following the tragedy, Flight 3407 families and members of the Western New York delegation fought to include reforms in comprehensive aviation safety legislation approved by Congress in 2010. Many of the reforms have already been implemented, such as rules to prevent fatigue and new training standards such as instruction on the prevention of aircraft stalls and the pilot qualification rule, which requires a co-pilot to hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate (typically attained through 1,500 hours of flight time). Previously, just 250 hours of flight time was required.

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