Representatives Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Chris Collins (NY-27), and Tom Reed (NY-23) today stood with Flight 3407 families and Capt. Tim Canoll, president of the Airline Pilots Association, and Jeff Skiles, first officer of the Miracle on the Hudson, in a bipartisan call for Congress to preserve hard-fought aviation safety improvements as the House prepares to consider Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation. They voiced strong and united opposition to any effort to roll back flight safety rules.
“Let's be clear, what is being proposed is a change in the rules to allow less experienced pilots to fly commercial planes,” said Congressman Higgins. “That is a huge step backward in the long bureaucratic battle for flight safety improvements that Flight 3407 families fought for and every airline passenger benefits from today.”
“Eight years ago, Western New York was the scene of one of the worst plane accidents in United States history. The Flight 3407 families turned their inconceivable grief into powerful action by pushing Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration to enact new safeguards to protect all air travelers. Every American should be grateful for the diligence of these families, who travel to Washington at their own expense to try and keep people safe. I am so proud of what we accomplished together. Since that time, we haven’t seen another fatal regional airline crash. I am proud to once again join the 3407 families today to encourage my colleagues to stand up to industry pressure and protect travelers. We cannot afford to erase the progress we’ve made by rolling back these safety standards,” said Slaughter.
“All Americans who have been safe on a regional airline the past seven years owe the families of Flight 3407 a debt of gratitude,” said Congressman Collins. “I would be gravely concerned if their remarkable efforts are overturned by the interests of regional airlines that prioritize profits over safety. The federal government and airlines have a responsibility for keeping Americans safe, and I stand with my colleagues today pledging to do all we can to keep these pilot training standards in place.”
“We will always remember the tragedy that took the lives of so many in the crash of Flight 3407. We will continue to honor their memory and stand with their family and friends to enhance flight safety regulations. The families of Flight 3407 are tireless advocates who help save lives through flight safety reforms. Because of their commitment, Congress passed significant legislation and we will not back down and lessen these important reforms,” said Congressman Reed.
"I know that my sister Beverly would be so proud of the determination and persistence that our group continues to show over eight years after the crash, just as she did after 9/11," said Karen Eckert of Williamsville, who lost her sister and noted 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert in the crash. "However we can't be there every day, and that is where the unbelievable support of our elected representatives in Washington, our Western New York delegation, in particular, has been so critical. And of course we are certainly not the experts when it comes to aviation safety, and that's where Sully Sullenberger, Jeff Skiles, and the pilots of ALPA have always had our backs. So when you put those pieces all together, we really have an amazing team, whose efforts have resulted in 8 years of no fatal crashes, the safest period by far in U.S. aviation history. And today's press conference should send a strong message that we are not going away."
February 12th marked the 8th anniversary of the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Clarence, NY. Following the 2009 tragedy, the families who lost loved ones as a result of the crash became vocal advocates in the fight for flight safety reform and, working with the Western New York delegation, won the passage of a number of measures toward the goal of providing one level of safety for the flying public. As a result, we’ve seen over seven years without a fatal regional airline crash.
The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Extension Act of 2010 included: pilot fatigue rules with rest time requirements; pilot qualification rules including a requirement for co-pilots to attain 1,500 hours of flight time experience and transparency for ticket purchasers requiring full disclosure of the air carrier operating flights.
The current FAA reauthorization will expire at the end of September. Some members of the House are expected to try and remove these vital airline safety protections as the upcoming reauthorization is considered.