Karen Eckert, who lost her sister in the crash of Flight 3407, watches as the Senate passes airline safety reforms.
WILLIAMSVILLE, NY - For 11 months, Karen Eckert and other 3407 family members have been pushing for safer skies, and Monday night, many of their proposals finally passed the U.S. Senate.
The vote was 93 to 0, showing unanimous support for the measure.
"I'm almost speechless that it was there, and it was unanimous," Eckert said.
Several family members made the trip to Washington to witness the vote in person. Eckert was scheduled to go but had to cancel at the last minute. She watched with intensity as the voting aired on C-Span 2.
"I'm thrilled for our families," Eckert said. "I'm thrilled that it's made a difference, that the crash that didn't have to happen has made a difference and will make a difference for other families so that nobody else hopefully will ever have to go through what we've been through."
After the vote, Eckert called other 3407 family members on the phone to discuss the vote and to share some tears.
"We're crying for who we lost, but what we were able to accomplish," Eckert said.
Senator Charles Schumer spoke with 2 On Your Side via satellite.
"The passage of the bill means that people who fly on the commuter airlines will be a lot safer," Schumer said.
The FAA Reauthorization Bill includes many reforms related to the investigation following the crash in Clarence last February. The FAA will be required to regulate co-pilots have at least 800 hours of training in the cockpit in a variety of conditions. The bill also addresses pilot fatigue. Also, pilot records will be available to all airlines. And when you purchase a ticket online, airlines are required to tell you who is actually operating the flight.
"It's been a long hard road, but we're finally there," Schumer said. "Once the bill passes, it will be certain that the number of hours that a pilot on a commuter airline has to train... in hazardous conditions, not just ideal conditions... will have to be in the law."
The Senate and the House versions must now be combined during a conference committee that should take place in the coming weeks. Senator Charles Schumer said he expects it to make it to the desk of the President by late April or early May. The law may take effect as early as Memorial Day.
Eckert wrapped up the journey for the family members. "A whole lot of tears," she said. "A whole lot of work. A whole lot of travel. And my heart is full. Just a whole lot of happiness today. It was worth it."