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Congressman Brian Higgins addresses the crowd.
Congressman Brian Higgins addresses the crowd.

Higgins & Langworthy, along with Flight 3407 families & Air Line Pilots Association, pledge vigilance in fight to protect flight safety


Fri, Apr 21st 2023 10:45 am

Push comes as congress holds hearing on FAA reauthorization; video

Earlier this week, Congress members Brian Higgins (D-NY-26) and Nick Langworthy (R-NY-23), together with the families of Flight 3407 and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), stood together in front of the U.S. Capitol following a hearing on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization to stress the need for Congress to protect flight safety standards, including the 1,500-hour rule for pilot training.

“The mere suggestion that we should put Americans on an airplane with pilots that are undertrained is absurd and dangerous,” Higgins said. “In Western New York, we learned the risks that come with this thinking the hard way. The families of Flight 3407 have worked tirelessly to see that other families don’t face the same fate. Together, we will continue to fight for the safety of the flying public.”

Langworthy said, “I’m proud to join with my colleague, Congressman Higgins, the families of Flight 3407, and the Air Line Pilots Association in this bipartisan fight to protect airline safety. Since the 1,500-hour training requirement was implemented, there hasn’t been a single crash of a U.S. airline, and making any changes this rule would undermine passenger safety. We can never get back the souls we lost on Flight 3407, but we can fight to ensure that no other travelers of U.S. airlines suffer the same tragic fate. No business decision should ever trump public safety.”

The FAA’s funding and authorities are scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2023. The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on April 19 to discuss FAA Reauthorization.

Witnesses at the hearing included:

  • Faye Malarkey Black, president and CEO, Regional Airline Association
  • Dr. Sharon B. DeVivo, president, Vaughn College
  • Brad Thress, president and CEO, FlightSafety International
  • Heather Krause, Director, physical infrastructure, U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • Capt. Jason Ambrosi, president, Air Line Pilots Association, international

“In response to the more than 1,100 lives lost in U.S. airline accidents in the 20 years prior to 2010, Congress heeded investigators who found that inadequate pilot experience and training had contributed to the crashes,” Ambrosi said. “In the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010, Congress established stronger pilot qualification, training and experience requirements, and made other aviation safety improvements. Since then, passenger fatalities have dropped by 99.8%. This pilot training framework has also produced tens of thousands more pilots over the past decade than airlines needed. The United States has more than enough pilots and the safest skies in the world.”

Ambrosi recently visited the Flight 3407 crash site in Western New York as the community marked the 14th anniversary of the tragedy in February.

Higgins’ team said, “Like they have dozens of times before, the Families of Flight 3407 were in Washington, D.C., to attend the hearing and provide members of Congress with a reminder of the lives that are at stake.”

Scott Maurer, father of Lorin Maurer, and a member of the families of 3407, said, “When our loved ones walked on that plane, they unconditionally placed their full faith and trust in every pilot, flight attendant, mechanic, ground crewman, air traffic controller, airline official, government employee, and so many others who played a role in ensuring that this flight – and hundreds of others that take off and land each and every day – would safely land at Buffalo Niagara International Airport just 53 minutes later. That full faith and trust was betrayed by economic pressures that lead to shortcuts, training standards that only met minimum federal requirements, and rushing pilots onto the regional airline flight decks without enough experience. Unfortunately, there is a multimillion-dollar lobbying effort happening to return to the insufficient safety standards that took our loved ones away from us. We will continue to come to Washington, D.C., to honor our loved ones so that no one will experience the same pain that we do.”

Higgins’ team said, “Following the crash of Flight 3407 in 2009, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) identified contributing factors. The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-216) addressed the lessons learned following the tragedy with greater transparency for travelers, a database making pilot records available to airlines, and additional rest time and training requirements for pilots.

“Regional airlines have objected to the pilot training standard often referred to as the 1,500-hour rule. The rule requires first officers (co-pilots) to complete 1,500 hours of flight time. Previously, first officers could hold a commercial license, which required only 250 hours of flight time training.”

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