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Hochul, Higgins, Slaughter, Reed, Schumer, Gillibrand call for Colgan investigation

by jmaloni
Mon, Oct 31st 2011 10:00 am

Over the weekend, representatives Kathy Hochul (NY-26), Brian Higgins (NY-27), Louise Slaughter (NY-28) and Tom Reed (NY-29), along with senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether Colgan Airlines intentionally withheld emails from a federal agency during the investigation of the crash of the Continental Connection Flight 3407 in February 2009.

"The people in my district experienced an unimaginable tragedy that took the lives of 50 of their loved ones," Hochul said. "The 3407 families deserve to know the truth, which is why we're calling on Attorney General Holder to investigate whether Colgan and its parent company intentionally withheld key evidence during the NTSB inquiry. We will not rest until we have all the answers."

"In order for NTSB crash investigations to be thorough and productive there must be a confidence that all of the information is on the table," Higgins said. "We're not so sure that was the case with critical details pertaining to Flight 3407. The families and the flying public deserve no less than full and fair disclosure." 

"We worked for years, hand-in-hand with the Flight 3407 families, to pass legislation to make sure pilots were qualified to be flying the planes we step into each and every day. Our goal was to make sure that standards were set and a proper curriculum developed to ensure that pilots in every cockpit were trained properly. Now we're learning, more than two-and-a-half years after the Flight 3407 disaster, that Colgan failed to share the emails that recently surfaced," Slaughter said. "All of this leaves me with haunting questions: What else don't we know? How can we prevent another 3407 if Colgan doesn't play straight?"

"I am troubled to learn that vital information may have been withheld," Reed said. "The victims' families deserve nothing less than a thorough investigation."

"For far too long, the families of Flight 3407 victims have fought to get to the bottom of that tragic crash, and they deserve the full truth," Schumer said. "The fact that relevant emails were not shared with NTSB during their initial investigation is very troubling and I am urging Attorney General Holder to open a criminal investigation to determine the truth."

"Families of the victims of Flight 3407 have been a constant presence in Washington, D.C., working to improve safety conditions so that others are spared the same loss they have had to endure. They deserve the full truth of what went wrong in the loss of their loved ones," Gillibrand said. "It is because of the tireless efforts of these families - their unwavering pursuit for justice - that we have taken some of the most significant steps in improving the safety of the nation's aviation system in years. We need every answer to ensure we continue taking every necessary step to prevent these accidents, and save lives."

Last week, emails were released between senior Colgan safety officials concerning the pilot of Continental Flight 3407, in which Colgan Air expressed serious doubts over the pilot's qualifications. These emails were never provided to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) during the initial investigations into the crash or produced during public hearings following the crash. Even more troubling to the New York elected leaders, they said, is that these emails appear to directly contradict statements made by those same Colgan officials just months later.

Click here to DOWNLOAD a copy of the letter sent by Hochul, Higgins, Slaughter, Reed Schumer and Gillibrand.

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