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Higgins announces action advancing pilot records database


Wed, Mar 4th 2020 07:55 pm

Rule reaches final phase of implementation

Congressman Brian Higgins confirmed with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Federal Aviation Administration that, following years in limbo, there is new action on the pilot records database moving the flight safety measure into the final phase of implementation.

With the OMB review concluding this week, the FAA will prepare a final rule to be published publicly through the Office of the Federal Register, and it will undergo a public comment period.

Higgins spoke about the action on the House Floor: https://youtu.be/dlbkikkM5I8

He said:  “Madam Speaker: For 11 years now, the families of Continental Flight 3407 have come to the Capitol Hill with the heart-driven goal of improving airline safety.

“Thanks to their efforts and with bipartisan support from Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorized the bill of 2010 to include measures to improve transparency and safety for the flying public.

“At long last the pilot records database, one of the final elements to be implemented, is moving forward.

“The captain of Flight 3407 had only 600 hours of flight experience and failed three practical tests known as check rides. Still, Continental, and its regional carrier Colgan Air, hired him.

“The National Transportation Safety Board found that pilot error had caused the crash.

“Led by the courageous family and friends of the victims of Flight 3407, and their tragic but awe-inspiring public advocacy to protect the flying public, this success in a deeply personal way belongs to them and those they loved and lost.”

The pilot records database was one of several safety measures required in the FAA reauthorization bill of 2010. But, Higgins said, the implementation has been unnecessarily slow. The database was finally put into a beta test phase in December 2017. In August of 2019, the secretary of transportation forwarded a “notice of proposed rulemaking” on the pilot records database to the OMB for formal review.

With news of action by the OMB, the plan for a pilot records database moves to a final public comment period stage before full implementation.

On Feb. 12, 2009 Colgan Air Flight 3407 tragically crashed to the ground in Clarence Center, killing all passengers and crew members on board and one person on the ground. The National Transportation Safety Board’s accident report concluded the incident was avoidable and attributable to pilot error. The NTSB report recommended a “process for verifying, validating, auditing and amending pilot training records.”

Higgins has fought for and won several flight safety improvements alongside the Flight 3407 families. In addition to the pilot records database, the law required enhanced pilot qualifications, increased training hours, new pilot flight and duty time rules to prevent pilot fatigue and full disclosure to consumers on airline websites of the flight operator, all of which were previously implemented.

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