Flight 3407 Families, Western NY Delegation to Hold Press Conference Today in DC on FAA Reauthorization

Buffalo, NY – February 3, 2015

The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ will hold a press conference with members of the Western New York congressional delegation, Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. in Room SVC-209-08 of the Capitol Visitors Center as they kick off their advocacy efforts geared towards the upcoming FAA Reauthorization Bill.  The group is making the trip to Washington one week in advance of the 6th anniversary of the tragic crash of Continental Flight 3407 outside of Buffalo, New York, which took the lives of all forty-nine on board as well as one man on the ground.

A prepared statement will be available after the 11:30 a.m. Washington press conference and members of the group will be made available for comment.

Group media representative Takla Boujaoude,    takla.3407@gmail.com

WHO:            The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’

WHAT:          Press Conference on FAA Reauthorization

WHEN:          11:30 a.m., Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

WHERE:        Room SVC-209-08, Capitol Visitor Center



Flight 3407 Families Kick Off FAA Reauthorization Push with Sullenberger, Schumer in Buffalo

Family Group to Conduct Outreach in Washington, DC on Wednesday

Buffalo, New York – February 2, 2015

With the six-year anniversary of the tragic crash of Continental Flight 3407 fast approaching, Miracle on the Hudson pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are scheduled to be in Buffalo today to join members of the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ in remembering those lost and also calling on congressional transportation leaders to hold the line against industry pressure to weaken regional airline safety measures that were unanimously passed by Congress in the aftermath of the crash.  The family group will then follow this event with a Wednesday trip to Washington where they will continue their advocacy for a true ‘One Level of Safety’ on both sides of Capitol Hill.

“Today’s event should send a strong message to all in Washington and in the commercial airline industry of our unwavering resolve to ensure that every passenger boarding a flight on a regional airline receives a commitment to safety that is on par with the likes of Southwest and Delta, something that our loved ones sadly did not receive,” stated Karen Eckert of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister Beverly Eckert, a noted 9/11 widow and activist.   “Captain Sullenberger’s presence serves as the strongest possible example that there is no substitute for experience in the cockpit, particularly when it comes to manual flying skills, and of course, Senator Schumer has been absolutely relentless in fighting for our cause every step of the way.  And with the six year anniversary coming up next week, everyone in Washington can expect to see a strong red-clad presence from our group on Wednesday, as we continue to remind the powers-that-be that we are as determined as ever to achieve this elusive ‘One Level of Safety’ between our nation’s regional and mainline carriers.”

Contact:      Takla Boujaoude                       takla.3407@gmail.com         716-907-2425

Today’s event in Buffalo is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., and will be held at the Flight 3407 Memorial Site at 6038 Long Street, where Continental Connection Flight 3407 operated by Colgan Air crashed into the Wielinski family home.  The family group will be in Washington on Wednesday, where they are planning to conduct numerous advocacy meetings as well as a press conference with the Western New York congressional delegation.  Details will be forthcoming.


Flight 3407 Families Applaud FAA, DOT for Release of Safety Management Final Rule

Buffalo, New York – January 7, 2015

Challenge Regional Airlines to Continue to ‘Step Up to the Plate’

In light of this morning’s public release of a final rule requiring Safety Management Systems for all Part 121 carriers, The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407′ commended Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta for their agencies’ work in implementing another key provision of Public Law 111-216, the Airline Safety Act.

“Today is another positive step towards our goal of achieving a TRUE ‘One Level of Safety’ between our nation’s regional and mainline passenger carriers,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister Beverly Eckert, a noted 9/11 widow and activist.   “It is so important that every passenger flying on a regional airline like Great Lakes Airlines receives the benefit of a commitment to and investment in best practice, data-driven safety programs that is commensurate with that of the major carriers like Southwest and Delta, a commitment and investment that my sister Beverly and everyone else lost on Flight 3407 sadly and tragically did not receive.   We want to express our heartfelt appreciation to Secretary Foxx and Administrator Huerta, and in particular Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Peggy Gilligan and her whole team, for grinding through the rule making process to make this much-needed rule a reality.”

Wednesday’s announcement means that only two provisions from P.L. 111-216 remain to be implemented.  One of those provisions addresses the creation of a comprehensive electronic pilot training records database to be used in the screening and hiring of pilots, and the other focuses on implementing pilot professionalism programs at carriers, to include mentoring, leadership, and professional development aspects.

“Since this whole process began with the introduction of H.R. 5900 back in the summer of 2009, the heightened focus on enhancing regional airline safety by Congress, FAA, DOT, the airlines, pilots, and safety groups like ours has resulted in nearly six years and millions of flights with no fatal commercial crashes,” stated John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty-four year old daughter Elly in a crash that was less than one mile from his home.  “However, we cannot rest on our laurels; we cannot take our foot off the gas; as complacency remains our single-biggest enemy.  To those who would like to see some of these critical safety measures that have been implemented by FAA watered down or rolled back, we remind you of Elly and all of our loved ones no longer with us; their memory demands that we continue to do everything possible to ensure that the horrible and very preventable tragedy of Flight 3407 is never again allowed to repeat itself.  We call on the key players, from Secretary Foxx and Administrator Huerta, to the congressional leaders on the transportation and aviation committees and subcommittees, to continue to maintain the vigilance and highest standards of safety that has made our country’s very safe commercial aviation system even safer.”

Contact:      Takla Boujaoude                       takla.3407@gmail.com         716-907-2425

Flight 3407 Families to Attend House Hearing; Gear Up for FAA Reauthorization Process

Buffalo, New York – November 18, 2014

With Congress preparing to take up a new FAA Reauthorization effort in the next Congress, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ announced their intentions to be involved in the process as they continue their crusade to achieve a true ‘One Level of Safety’ between the nation’s major and regional carriers.  They will kick off their efforts by attending Tuesday’s House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s hearing entitled, ‘FAA Reauthorization: Issues in Modernizing and Operating the Nation’s Airspace’.

“So many wonderful lives, including that of my beautiful daughter Lorin, were needlessly lost on a February night over five years ago, and we remain firmly committed to doing everything possible to hold regional airlines accountable for the same high safety standards that their major partners are adhering to,” declared Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year old daughter Lorin in the crash.  “Passengers on our nation’s regional airlines deserve nothing less than the same investment in training and best practice safety management programs as those flying on the mainline carriers; in the case of Flight 3407, our loved ones were betrayed by a code share agreement between Colgan (now re-branded under the Endeavor Air umbrella), and Continental (now conveniently operating under the United name) that did not live up to this principle.

As we head into this reauthorization process, our mission is twofold; first, to preserve the hard-fought safety advances already made as a result of the landmark regional airline safety legislation passed in 2010, and secondly, to further those initiatives in the legislation as well as the recommendations made in the NTSB final report that have not yet been fully implemented, such as the Pilot Records Database.”

Tuesday’s hearing, expected to focus on the nation’s Air Traffic Control system, will include some of the most powerful lobbying forces in the industry, including Airlines for America President and CEO, Nicholas Calio, representing some of the nation’s largest carriers.  It will be held at 10 a.m. in Room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

“We got a first-hand look at how convoluted the reauthorization process can be back in the spring and summer of 2010,” stated Karen Eckert of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister Beverly Eckert, a noted 9/11 widow and activist.  “Everyone has their own agenda in terms of what they are trying to promote and what they are trying to block, all in their best interests of course, and we certainly saw some of the heaviest hitters when it comes to influencing the process in full effect.  We certainly cannot match the financial wherewithal of some of these powerful entities, but no one has a cause as pure as ours, and hopefully Senator Thune and Congressman Shuster will do the right thing and make sure that safety is the top priority at every turn as this sweeping legislation is drafted.”

Contact:      Takla Boujaoude     takla.3407@gmail.com   716-907-2425



Open Letter from Smolensk family members to MH17 family members

August 8, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, we would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the families whose loved ones died in the crash of the Malaysian Boeing [MH17].

When on April 2010, the [Polish] government TU-154M crashed [in Smolensk, Russia], no one could understand that this plane carrying the most important people in the Polish State, could have simply been in an accident. To our dismay, all subsequent waves of propaganda campaigns served to us by the Russians, and dishonest and thoughtless Poles [representing official Polish governmental bodies, alike], exceeded our wildest fears.

My late, defenseless husband, and I, personally were falsely attacked and cornered from all sides. The Russians unscrupulously tried to convince you that it was the Polish side that bore responsibility for this disaster.

In order to hide the real cause of the tragedy, the Russian MAK falsely accused my husband – General of the Polish Army, Commander of the Polish Air Force, a model NATO officer – that, under the influence of alcohol, he exerted undue pressure on the pilots. After several months of thorough investigation, all these deceitful claims were proven to be nothing more than a cruel Russian propaganda hoax.

These days we hear the same disinformation in relation to the tragedy of the Malaysian passenger Boeing, in which nearly 300 innocent people had died. The administration of President Vladimir Putin is trying to convince the World that it is Ukraine that stands behind this tragedy.

You, ladies and gentlemen, are in a much better position than we were four years ago. You have the support of not only your own government[s], but also other Western countries. In order to expose the Smolensk Lie, we widows, mothers, daughters, sons, husbands, and brothers [of the victims of the April 10, 2010 crash], could rely only on ourselves, the support of the Parliamentary Group, and independent media. We never accepted Russia’s false and tendentious obfuscations. Immediately after the death of our loved ones, we embarked on this ill-matched battle to win the truth. We shall remain on this road and follow it, wherever it leads and however long it takes, until the world knows the full truth about the tragedy of April 10, 2010.

The downing of the Malaysian Boeing [MH17] and the crash of Tu-154M bare uncanny similarities, aptly visible in Russia’s behavior, as well the resultant social ramifications [of both tragedies]. For this reason, we pledge our full commitment and readiness to cooperate with you, in explaining the causes of both disasters.

We are confident that our joint efforts can bring to justice the guilty of these crimes, and that the truth about the death of our loved ones, will be at last known throughout the world.

– Ewa Blasik, widow of the late General, Andrzej Błasik

More at this link at Smolensk Crash News Digest.

German AirFrance 447 Families’ Letter to the Families of MH370 Passengers

Sharing this at the German AF447 Families’ request (via Families and Friends of American Eagle 4184).

H I O P A F 4 4 7 e. V.

H i n t e r b l i e b e n e d e r O p f e r d e s F l u g z e u g a b s t u r z e s A F 4 4 7
Barnackufer 29 b
12207 BERLIN


Berlin, 16th March 2014

Dear All,

On behalf of the families of the German victimes of flight AF447, which crashed on 1st of June 2009, we would like to express to you our sympathy and compassion in these days of utmost anxiety about the fate of your beloved ones on flight MH370.

Alike you we are completely dismayed about the vague and partially contradicting information policy by the Malaysian Government. As MH370 is an international flight and booked by passengers from various countries you as families should feel entitled to approach your respective national Governments to put pressure on the Malysian military and civil authorities to speed up the investigations and to care for quicker release of findings.

We also encourage you to demand together with your national Governments right now and in addition to ICAO Annex 13 (Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation) a neutral investigation to be carried out by compentent experts of your choice in order to safeguard full transparency and best pratices be applied. In this respect the families concerned should also envisage a legal incorporation in form of an association in their respective homecountries.

As to immediate financial aid we recommend that you demand from Malaysia Airlines a first installment out of 113,100 special drawing rights according to the Montreal Convention of 28th May 1999.

Watching your case very carefully and sending you our sincerest wishes

Dr. Bernd Gans, President, bernd.gans@web.de

Barbara Crolow, Vice-President, bcrolow@googlemail.com

P. S. We also recommend to distribute these lines as an open letter to the international and local press companies

Flight 3407 Families Challenge Secretary Foxx to Step Up on Looming Safety Rules

Buffalo, New York- June 27, 2013

Within minutes of Anthony Foxx being confirmed by the Senate to be the next Transportation Secretary, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ called on Ray LaHood’s successor to follow through on an invitation to sit down with the group, as well as to deliver on two critical new safety regulations.

“First and foremost, we would like to congratulate Secretary Foxx on his confirmation,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year-old daughter Lorin in the crash.  “We enjoyed the opportunity to attend his confirmation hearing with the Commerce Committee, and were encouraged by his declaration that safety would be his absolute top priority.  Beyond that, we deeply appreciated his pledge to sit down with us should he be confirmed, and now we look forward to taking him up on his offer, hopefully sooner rather than later.  The administration faces some major challenges in the upcoming months in terms of upgrading the regional airlines’ commitment to safety, and hopefully Secretary Foxx and FAA Administrator Huerta will step up to the plate and deliver.”


Secretary Foxx assumes his office just as two critical and already past-due aviation safety initiatives approach key deadlines.  A new rule that will elevate the entry-level qualifications required of new-hire regional airline first officers must be completed by August 1, and another rule that will upgrade airlines’ crewmember training programs faces an October due date.  In both cases, the Administration has faced significant pressure from the nation’s major and regional airlines to water down and/or stall the safety measures.

“As we welcome Secretary Foxx to this post, we also offer our appreciation to Ray LaHood for all that he has done on the behalf of the flying public to advance the cause of a true ‘One Level of Safety’ between our nation’s regional and mainline carriers,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister and prominent 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert.  “However, much work remains to be done, and Secretary Foxx faces these two major challenges right off the bat.  As always, you have the industry and their significant lobbying resources on one side, and the little people like us on the other side.  Our efforts are too late to save Beverly and the others who needlessly lost their lives, but hopefully we can make a difference for all future air travelers.  We are counting on Secretary Foxx and Administrator Huerta to come through here in the next four months.”

The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ group was immediately organized after the crash as a support network and an activist group to work on aviation safety reform.  Visit the group’s website or follow them on twitter @3407Families learn more about their efforts.

Contact:      Takla Boujaoude                    takla.3407@gmail.com                     716-907-2425

Flight 3407 Families: One Month from Critical FAA Safety Deadline, Call Out Airlines’ Pressure on White House

Buffalo, New York- July 1, 2013

With a key deadline in the landmark Airline Safety Act of 2010 looming just one month away, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ challenged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to stand up to airline lobbying efforts aimed at watering down a critical entry-level pilot qualifications final rule. “It is coming down to crunch time, and no sooner had DOT sent the paperwork over to OMB than the lobbyists for A4A (Airlines for America) and RAA (Regional Airline Association) were scurrying over there to make sure they were the first to sit down with OMB,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year-old daughter Lorin in the crash.

“We went through this before with the flight and duty time rule, and in that case, the airlines were successful in getting FAA to water down the final rule from the initial proposal. We challenge Administrator Huerta and his colleagues at DOT and OMB to stand up to the airlines and make sure that this final rule accurately reflects Congress’s unanimous mandate that all entry-level regional airline first officers have a significantly stronger foundation prior to being hired, both in the quality of training and the amount of hands-on prior flight experience. The FAA’s proposal as written makes fair allowances for military pilots and those trained at 4-year accredited university aviation programs, and we are completely opposed to FAA lowering the bar any further in the final rule.”

In passing the ‘Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010’, Congress included multiple provisions intended to raise the safety standard for the nation’s regional airlines. Regional airlines now account for over 50 percent of our nation’s commercial flights on a daily basis, and the regionals have been responsible for every fatal crash since 2003. Key provisions of the Safety Act targeted regional airline deficiencies in the experience level of their new first officers, scheduling practices that contributed to pilot fatigue, and inadequacies in the initial and recurrent crewmember training provided by the regionals. Given FAA’s extensive track record of not meeting rulemaking deadlines, Congress included a default clause in the Safety Act that would require all new commercial first officers to have an Airline Transport Pilot license, the same rating required of captains, if FAA did not complete the rulemaking by August 1, 2013.

“We continue to remind everyone that raising the entry-level requirements for first officers was part of a larger plan by Congress to bring the regional airline’s commitment to, and investment in safety, on par with that of the major airlines – the true ‘One Level of Safety’ that my sister and everyone on that plane tragically did not receive,” stated Karen Eckert of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister and prominent 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert.  “The airlines and their lobbyists have aggressively attempted to message this proposal as being unnecessary and the equivalent of pilots towing banners on a beach to gain the prerequisite number of hours.  They conveniently overlook the two prongs of this initiative: combining a more robust pilot training certification program with additional hands-on flying experience that will give young pilots exposure to bad weather and other difficult operating conditions that they do not receive in flight school.  But the airlines’ true motivation lies in their desire to preserve the status quo of regional airlines paying their first officers food stamp-level wages like what the first officer on Flight 3407 received.  Hopefully FAA, DOT, and OMB are able to see right through that and come down on the side of safety and the flying public when they issue their final rule.  As always, we will be watching closely.”

The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ group was immediately organized after the crash as a support network and an activist group to work on aviation safety reform.  Visit the group’s website or follow them on twitter @3407Families learn more about their efforts.

Contact:      Takla Boujaoude                    takla.3407@gmail.com                     716-907-2425

Flight 3407 Families: Article Reiterates Regional Airlines’ “Race to the Bottom”, Need for FAA Safety Rules to Be Finalized

Buffalo, New York- June 3, 2013

The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ reacted strongly to a Sunday article in the Buffalo News  where Dan Morgan, former Vice President of Safety and Regulatory Compliance for Colgan Air, acknowledged that a senior FAA official shared “very serious concerns about the safety culture at Colgan Air”, in a meeting with company officials just six months prior to the fatal crash of Flight 3407.

Family members also took offense with the revelation that Colgan was able to avoid FAA disciplinary action through the implementation of a safety Powerpoint presentation for its employees.   “It is sickening to hear once again, this time from an insider, the depths that the FAA allowed regional airlines to descend to,” declared John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty-four year-old daughter Elly in the crash.  “Obviously the convenient thing to do for Colgan and Pinnacle to do was to pin this on the pilot and first officer, but this account provides further evidence of an across-the-board, minor league operation at this airline, which resulted in numerous safety shortcuts and ultimately, the needless loss of so many lives.  Whether it be maintenance deficiencies, inexperienced pilots, or even the idea that a Colgan Vice President had to use a credit card to refuel a plane because the company hadn’t been paying its bills, this article dramatically highlights that our loved ones boarded a plane operated by an airline that was a disaster-waiting-to-happen.  And shame on the FAA, Continental, United, and everyone else who looked the other way and allowed this tragedy to occur.”

The family group used this article to call attention to two well-publicized rulemakings that have been stalled between FAA, DOT, and the White House Office of Management and Budget, which would significantly raise the safety bar for the nation’s regional airlines.  FAA Administrator Michael Huerta has pledged to have both rulemakings completed by their August and October deadlines.   “As we have throughout this whole process, we are going to continue to try and find a way to look forward and not back, as difficult as that continues to be,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister and prominent 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert.  “With the impending rulemakings on pilot qualifications and crewmember training, FAA and DOT have an opportunity to significantly close the gap between regional airlines like Colgan and Pinnacle, and their mainline partners. This article should be another reminder for those working on these rulemakings, as well as everyone in the industry, of what can happen when economic concerns are allowed to trump safety.  We again call on Administrator Huerta to deliver on his promises.”

The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ group was immediately organized after the crash as a support network and an activist group to work on aviation safety reform.  Visit the group’s website or follow them on twitter @3407Families learn more about their efforts.

Contact:      Takla Boujaoude                    takla.3407@gmail.com                     716-907-2425


Flight 3407 Families to Attend Foxx’s Senate Confirmation Hearing on Wednesday

Buffalo, New York- May 21, 2013

With Key Safety Rules Hanging in the Balance, Flight 3407 Families to Attend Foxx’s Senate Confirmation Hearing on Wednesday

Families Call on Obama Administration to Stand Up to Airlines’ Pressure to Water Down Regional Airline Safety Reforms

With the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in a sprint to finish one key regional airline safety measure by August 1st, and a second by mid-October, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ announced that they would be present at Wednesday’s Senate Commerce Committee confirmation hearing for Mayor Anthony Foxx.     “There is no doubt that the airlines are employing every trick in their lobbying playbook to find the weakest link at FAA, DOT, or OMB and get them to agree to water down these proposed regulations in their favor,” declared Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year-old daughter Lorin in the crash.  “Over the past few decades, trade associations like Airlines for America and the Regional Airline Association have been the undisputed heavyweight champions when it has come to taking on safety advocacy groups like us and finding a way to obstruct the rulemaking process.

As Mayor Foxx potentially enters the fray here at the eleventh hour, you can be sure that he has already heard, or will be hearing, from multiple industry henchmen that the sky is about to fall for the airlines if these new regulations are allowed to be implemented in the strongest manner intended by Congress.  Hopefully, he follows the lead of his predecessor Secretary LaHood and puts safety first, ensuring that passengers on regional airlines receive the most highly-qualified and well-trained crew possible.  If only Colgan/Pinnacle/Continental/United would have done the same for Lorin.”     The two rules under consideration are the ‘Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements’ rulemaking, as well as the ‘Qualification, Service, and Use of Crewmembers and Aircraft Dispatchers’ rulemaking.  The former, which will significantly enhance both the qualitative and quantitative requirements for a First Officer to be hired by a regional airline, is currently at OMB, and must be published by August 1st.  The latter, which will provide a much-needed update to the FAA’s requirements on how regional airlines train their pilots, is now 20 months overdue, and targeted for completion by October 21st.  It is still at FAA, and is scheduled to be sent to DOT on June 3rd.   “In light of the extensive delays that have already occurred with these rulemakings, this is certainly not the ideal time for transition to be occurring at DOT,” stated Karen Eckert of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister and prominent 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert.  “The objectives of FAA and DOT have historically been muddled by the so-called ‘dual mandate’ of regulating safety while at the same time promoting the growth of the aviation industry in the United States.  Safety costs money, and there is always going to be some industry resistance when it comes to implementing stronger safety regulations, in this case geared towards the regional airline industry.

Hopefully Mayor Foxx is able to grasp the significant gap that still exists in our quest for a true ‘One Level of Safety’ between our nation’s mainline and regional carriers, and provide true leadership in seeing both of these rulemakings completed in not only a timely, but also the strongest, manner possible.”   Wednesday’s confirmation hearing for Mayor Foxx will he held at 2:30 p.m. in Room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building, the hearing room for the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.  It will be led by Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Ranking Member Sen. John Thune (R-SD).

The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ group was immediately organized after the crash as a support network and an activist group to work on aviation safety reform.  Visit the group’s website or follow them on twitter @3407Families learn more about their efforts.

Contact:      Takla Boujaoude                    takla.3407@gmail.com                     716-907-2425