WASHINGTON — Congressman Brian Higgins went to bat on the house floor Wednesday to remind members of Congress that there have been no commercial airline deaths in seven years since laws to better train pilots and protect their health went into effect in 2010.
Those laws, that most notably increased required pilot training hours from 250 to 1,500, happened thanks to the families of Flight 3407.
“Yet some, including the new nominee to the National Transportation Safety Board, question the need for these hard-fought common sense safety and training standards. You have a right to know which airline is flying your plane. You have a right to know that your pilot is well rested,” Higgins said.
He was referring to President Donald Trump’s NTSB board nominee, Bruce Landsberg, who has said before that he doesn’t think 1,500 hours is necessary to operate a commercial flight.
John Kausner, whose daughter Elly died in the crash, fears Landsberg's potential influence.
"We have to get on an airplane and go to Congress, and spend our time there, our money on our time,” Kausner said. “He's there all year long in manner of...in a position of influence. Of great influence. And the concern is, I’ll paraphrase, 'The qualifications of the co-pilot are irrelevant, it's a non-issue.'”
Congressman Chris Collins has also fought on behalf of 3407 families, and says he'll continue to.
"Non-partisan, one of the few times that Senator Schumer and I agree on an issue,” he said by phone from Washington.
He suggests, however, that Landsberg wouldn't have the authority to change the law and that Landsberg isn't necessarily the problem.
"I couldn't disagree more with him and his position, but, he has no say-so on it. So we're going to continue to be concerned, primarily because it was an advisory board that we think was overloaded by airline representatives,” Rep. Collins said.
And it was the advisory board with airline representatives who recommended rolling back the training hours.
"I've said many times that I didn't get to walk my daughter down the aisle. I believe a lot of dads will get to walk their daughter down the aisle and won't even know why. They're flying a safe flight home, or to the wedding party, and they'll get there safely,” Kausner said. “So in my mind, at least, we've left a legacy of safety that's important to us."
Commercial pilots used to only need 250 hours of flying experience. Laws passed after the crash brought that up to 1,500 hours.