FAA Proposes $1.9 Million Penalty Against Colgan Air

1:50 PM, Sep 16, 2011   |    comments
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Continental Connection Flight 3222 Operated By Colgan Air Lands at Wrong Airport (From KPLC)

BUFFALO, N.Y.- There is turbulence for Colgan Air after mistakes involving the regional carrier were revealed back to back.

Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it wants to fine the airline $1,892,000 for improperly training flight attendants back in November 2009, just nine months after the Colgan-operated Flight 3407 crashed in Clarence. Investigators later said the crash was due to pilot error.

The FAA announcement comes on the heels of news that last week, a Colgan commuter flight from Houston, bound for an airport in Louisiana, missed its runway, Instead landing at another, eight nautical miles away.

Advocates of tougher air safety legislation say mistakes like these could have been avoided.

"I personally find it shocking, that an airline that is under so much scrutiny because of 3407 would even allow this to happen," said Congresswoman Kathy Hochul.

John and Marilyn Kausner, who lost their daughter Ellie the crash say they are not so much shocked, as disgusted.

"I wasn't real surprised, to be honest with you," said Marilyn Kausner. "They don't take this seriously enough."

The FAA documents allege Colgan did not properly train 84 new flight attendants to use fire extinguishers. They say on November 2, 2009, an inspection revealed that the crewmembers had not accomplished the required training, instead they had learned to operate a different kind of extinguisher found on a different plane. The FAA alleges Colgan used those crewmembers on 172 flights between November 3 and November 9, 2009 anyway.

"It points to a systemic problem, with Colgan," said Congressman Brian Higgins. "People get on those planes assuming a uniform safety standard that just doesn't exist."

When reached by phone Thursday, a spokesman for Colgan called the mistaken landing an isolated incident. He could not be reached for comment later in the day on the FAA fine.

"Once is an isolated incident," said John Kausner. "We've had a fine for the flight attendants, we've had landing at the wrong airport, and we've had the crash of 3407. Once is isolated. Twice might be a correctable mistake. I think three times shows a pattern."

Tuesday, family members met with members of the Obama administration to discuss flight safety legislation they have been pushing since the 3407 crash. 

It has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, but has been waiting for approval by the White House Office of Management and Budget. It missed an August 1st deadline, but the Kausners say they've been assured it will make it out of that office by November.



















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