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Flight 3407 Families in Washington, D.C.

7:09 AM, Feb 12, 2013   |    comments
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CLARENCE CENTER, NY - Today marks another somber anniversary here in Western New York - four years since the crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence Center.

Still, families find themselves fighting for air safety regulations to actually be put in place by the federal government.

About 50 family members of the victims head to Washington, D.C. today. Many of them say that the FAA has failed to act in making flying more safe like the agency is supposed to do.

In August 2010, President Obama signed a law, PL 111-216, that was intended to boost safety within airlines and require the FAA to begin doing numerous studies and safety checks.

But since then, critics say major parts of the law are not in place. U.S. Representative Chris Collins (R - 27th District) says that the FAA has missed deadlines to implement parts of the law by a year, like better training of pilots.

"It is just unacceptable that these laws have not been implemented because the FAA is dragging their feet making up every reason you can imagine," Collins said. 

So, the families are going to Washington to grab the ears of lawmakers to pressure them to get the FAA to fully implement the law.

2 On Your Side heard from one family member of a Flight 3407 victim, who calls the inaction frustrating. 

"I hope that they understand that four years later our loss is not any less than it was four years ago," said Laura Voigt, who lost her 24-year-old sister Elly in the crash, "We've had four years of not having birthdays with the people that we love. I've watched my children grow without their aunt and that hasn't gotten easier."

Voigt adds that the families will not stop until flying is made safer. Her sister was studying to be a law student in Florida when she died tragically.

"The loss is still very real and we want to let them know that this is what we are doing because we are honoring the people that we lost, I know that if my sister were here, she'd be fighting, she wouldn't give up," said Voigt.

In addition to better training of pilots, the families are also calling for one level of safety for regional and major air carriers. The law requires the FAA to meet deadlines in implementing the law. And, ten days ago, a federal audit showed that the FAA has achieved much of what it needs to do, but there are still shortfalls.

The audit commends the FAA for creating rules to better prevent against pilot fatigue.

However, it says that hiring and qualification programs need to be revamped. A database tracking pilot records is needed. And safety standards with smaller carriers are still lacking.

The report says that the FAA is more than 15 months overdue on issuing final rules on pilot training. Which is probably one of the most important changes the families want.

The review also adds that the FAA will have difficulty in getting the law fully implemented because of politics over controversial safety issues with the airline industry.

 

Rep. Collins says he will meet with families of the victims and that the FAA is making excuses for not implementing parts of the law.

"It's these changes in safety regulations that honors their memory that makes sure that their lives were not lost without a positive impact on safety for all Americans moving forward," Collins said.  

The FAA has passed rules to better prevent against pilot fatigue.

The FAA says that it will have a statement on the anniversary of the crash Monday.

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