BUFFALO, NY-- Airlines are looking to make changes to the airline safety bill.
That's according to an article in the Buffalo News. The Buffalo News reports it received a memo from a source with a proposal to make it easier for pilots to get "academic credit that counts toward the required 1,500 hours of flight experience they need before they can fly a passenger airliner."
Following the crash of Flight 3407 eight years ago, the families fought for stronger pilot training standards and increased down time between flights for pilots.
Statement from Senator Chuck Schumer (D):
“Regional airlines should drop any and all attempts to roll back these important and hard-won aviation safety standards,” said Senator Schumer. “Each and every time this issue has come up we’ve successfully beaten back special interests’attempts to water down safety standards, and I will work tirelessly alongside the families of Flight 3407 to ensure we’re successful again. I was proud to work with the families of Flight 3407 and the rest of the Western New York Congressional Delegation to pass into law these standards that improved airline safety, and I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to fight any and all efforts to weaken them or roll them back. Protecting the flying public and ensuring pilots and first officers are adequately trained is of the utmost importance and will always be a top priority of mine.”
Statement from families of victims of Flight 3407:
"There are some ideas like this that maybe look good to someone on paper, but aren't so great when you see how they affect real people, and unfortunately we are the poster children for what happens when you give the regional airlines free reign," declared John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York who lost his twenty-four year old daughter Elly in the crash less than a mile from the Kausner family home, in a released statement. "Our government allowed this to happen in the years leading up to the crash, and the result was a decade's worth of regional airline safety shortcuts and mishaps culminating in the very preventable tragedy of Flight 3407. And now that we've gone over eight years with zero fatal commercial crashes on domestic carriers - the safest period in U.S. history by far - here we go again with the lobbyists lurking in the back hallways of Congress looking for another legislative bailout in exchange for some more campaign contributions. If anyone is looking for a swamp to be drained, this would be a great place to start, and you can be assured that you are going to see me with a picture of my daughter every step of the way."
"It is disheartening to say the least to see a safety initiative that clearly is working made out to be the scapegoat for the failed economic model of the relationship between mainline and regional carriers," stated Karen Eckert, of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister and noted 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert. "We have mainline carriers turning record profits as they charge fees like never before, and instead of sharing this with their regional partners, the regionals instead are forced to turn to their lobbyists as they look for a legislative bailout at the expense of safety and the flying public. Not to mention that the regionals clamoring the most for these safety rollbacks are the bottom feeders who continue to pay their pilots $20,000 a year; these are the exact working conditions that compromised safety in the case of Flight 3407, with our first officer forced to live in Seattle and commute across the country to work out of Newark. Beverly did not stand for any such injustices in the aftermath of losing her husband Sean on 9/11, and in the memory of her and all the others needlessly lost on Flight 3407, we will not go quietly as the regionals and their lobbyists continue to try to peddle a tale that their sky is falling. The before and after safety results speak for themselves, and shame on any member of Congress who tries to justify any watering down of these safety measures that were tragically paid for in the blood of our loved ones."
The families of Flight 3407 say they want Washington to know they are not going away. They are speaking out about the report that airlines are trying to convince Washington lawmakers to eliminate some of the safety rules that were put in place after the crash.
Jennifer West lost her husband, Ernie, who was on Flight 3407. Their daughter, Summer, was two at the time. She is now ten and is going to Washington for the first-time next week.
The families of Flight 3407 have been to Washington many times since 2009. They successfully fought for tougher safety standards for pilots - which included requiring them to have at least 15-hundred hours of training.
West says the main point she wants to get across when she's in D.C. is for Congress not to listen to lobbyists who want to water down the 1500-hour rule.
"A lot of people don't understand the inner workings of special interest groups and the regional airlines about how they don't want to pay the extra money to hire qualified pilots, so we like to bring it to the forefront and make the public know that if they take away those hours, a plane crash could happen again and it could be their loved ones on that plane," says Jennifer West.
"I'm going to tell them that they need to spend more hours practicing and learning about how to fly. If you do less time, then it will cause more accidents in the sky," says Summer West.
Congressman Brian Higgins also released a statement Monday vowing to fight with the families to keep the current standards in place.
The battle is part of the FAA reauthorization bill. The text of that bill is expected to be released soon.
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