Flight 3407 Families Call on Commerce Committee to Support Huerta’s Nomination; Critical Rulemaking at FAA Hanging in the Balance

Flight 3407 Families Call on Commerce Committee to Support Huerta’s Nomination;  Group is Counting on Acting Administrator to Complete Key Rulemaking on Pilot Training and Qualifications in Swift Manner

Buffalo, New York- July 31, 2012

With the Senate’s Commerce Committee scheduled to hold an executive session on Tuesday afternoon to consider the nomination of Michael Huerta as FAA Administrator, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ called on Chairman John D. ‘Jay’ Rockefeller (D-WV), ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and their colleagues on the committee to approve the nomination of Huerta, and send his name to the entire Senate body for its approval.  At the same time, the group underscored the importance of Huerta living up to his pledge to Chairman Rockefeller at his confirmation hearing to expedite a long-overdue rulemaking that would revamp airlines’ pilot training programs.  And the group continues to press the FAA to withstand industry pressure and finalize a rulemaking that would significantly enhance the entry-level requirements for commercial airline first officers.

“Since Mr. Huerta took over as acting Administrator, he has made a sincere effort to get to know our group and to understand our passion for achieving a true ‘One Level of Safety’ when comparing our nation’s regional airlines with their parent carriers,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister and noted 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert.  “We appreciate the efforts of him and his staff to date in implementing many of the provisions contained in the law that we fought to get passed two years ago, and we would like to see him receive the opportunity to continue to advance the many initiatives that are still in progress.  However, the true legacy will not lie in what is contained in the law itself, but rather in what is contained in the regulations that come forth from it.  And of course, in the timeliness that it is implemented with.  Despite heavy push-back from the airlines and other industry sectors, we are counting on Mr. Huerta to see these rulemaking through to completion, to not allow the industry’s lobbying machine to water them down, and to complete these actions in the quickest manner possible in the interest of safety.”

In August 2010, Congress unanimously passed, and the President signed into law, PL 111-216, ‘The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010’, the most sweeping aviation legislation passed in over fifty years.  The legislation was primarily geared toward addressing safety deficiencies found at some of the nation’s regional airlines, with key provisions aimed at pilot fatigue, training, minimum entry-level hiring qualifications, airline safety management programs, and the creation of a national training records database.

The Commerce Committee’s executive session to consider Huerta’s nomination will be held this afternoon, Tuesday, July 31st, at 2:30 p.m. in Room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building.

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 to learn more about their efforts.

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

Flight 3407 Families Call On FAA to Expedite Pilot Training Reforms in Wake of Air France Report

Air France Flight 447 Report Cites Lack of Training in ‘Surprise Situations’; Hauntingly Similar to Flight 3407 Findings

Buffalo, New York- July 10, 2012 – Responding to last week’s release of a final report on the causes of the fatal 2009 Air France crash that claimed 228 lives, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ continued to press officials in the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation, and the White House Office of Management and Budget to pick up the pace in finalizing critical pilot training improvements that would address a recurring problem of pilots improperly responding to emergency situations.  The timeline for these safety reforms, which were unanimously approved by both houses of Congress in 2010 and directed to be completed by October 2011, has recently been pushed back to October 2013 by the FAA and the Obama Administration.

Citing a process which already dates back to 1999, and which includes heavy industry pressure to delay the FAA’s efforts, the family group called on acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to come through for the flying public and put safety ahead of the industry’s bottom line.   “Just like with what the NTSB found with Flight 3407, the Air France final report underscores the dramatic need to better train our pilots to react to emergency situations, and in particular to not be so heavily reliant on the automation in the cockpit,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty-year old daughter Lorin.  “And it is not just one crash investigation calling for this; it is multiple crash investigations, and it is expert pilots like Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles from the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’.  Everyone keeps saying that we need to re-emphasize pilots’ manual flying skills, and train their responses to emergency situations in a more realistic and robust way, and yet we continue to see the FAA spinning its wheels.

Shame on us if we continue to let months and years pass because we can’t cut through the bureaucratic red tape and achieve a common-sense solution that has been staring us in the face for the past three years.  And don’t get me started on the airlines doing this voluntarily; voluntary compliance, or the lack thereof, is exactly why the crash of Flight 3407 happened in the first place.”    The group called on FAA and the Administration to live up to Huerta’s pledge to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. ‘Jay’ Rockefeller (D-WV) to ‘provide the resources to get this done as quickly as possible’, in reference to a process which has already included industry input from a rule making advisory committee and two rounds of proposed rules with comment periods.  Of even greater concern, the FAA’s latest proposal carries a five year compliance window, which would potentially not require the changes until 2019, over 10 years after the Flight 3407 crash.

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

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 to learn more about their efforts.