Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- With the three year anniversary of the tragic crash of Continental Flight 3407 less than two weeks away, the "Families of Continental Flight 3407" announced Wednesday that they would be heading to Washington next week to commemorate their loved ones' memory and to continue to show their resolve in pushing for critical regional airline safety initiatives to be put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Planned events for their Tuesday, February 7th visit include a press conference with the Western New York congressional delegation as well as a meeting with acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
"First and foremost, we cannot allow Congress and the Administration to ever forget Beverly and all of our loved ones lost in this avoidable tragedy," said Karen Eckert of Williamsville, New York, who lost her sister and prominent 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert. "Last spring, we saw a disturbing example of what can happen when the industry, lobbyists, and sympathetic lawmakers intersect, and we spent three months fighting to ensure that the safety legislation that we fought so hard for would not be watered down. Beverly's efforts in the wake of losing Sean on 9/11 serve as a strong reminder that we must continue to come here to Washington and make sure that the powers-that-be do not lose their resolve for these safety advances over time. We remain united in our cause of achieving a true 'One Level of Safety' for all of our nation's flying public, whether they fly on major carriers or their regional partners."
The group also is looking forward to their first meeting with acting FAA Administrator, Michael Huerta, who is replacing Randy Babbitt, a former pilot who worked closely with the group in the wake of the crash. The FAA has made significant progress by issuing a decades-overdue new regulation on pilot scheduling limits this past December, but numerous requirements to remain to be met in the areas of pilot qualification, training, safety management systems, and addressing numerous other safety recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board in its final report on Flight 3407.
"Although we have a great law on paper to show the results of our efforts, the tough reality is that we still have at least two more years' worth of milestones and deadlines to be met for it to truly to mean something," stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year old daughter Lorin in the crash. "This is exactly how the airlines have succeeded in the past in delaying and obstructing critical safety reforms that impact their bottom line; they have the time and resources to outlast a group like ours. That is why it is so important that Administrator Huerta feels the depth of our pain and sense of loss, and understands our determination to see this all the way through. We are counting on his leadership, and that of Secretary LaHood and President Obama to guide this effort to completion."
The landmark aviation safety legislation passed by Congress in 2010 contained numerous safety reforms intended to address the deficiencies that led to the tragedy of Continental Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air. Congress called on the FAA to issue stronger regulations regarding pilot training, scheduling, and qualifications, and mandated additional measures to ensure that all regional airlines invest in safety and training programs in a manner comparable to the major carriers. The FAA was also required to release a yearly report on the status of all outstanding NTSB safety recommendations, which it recently did.
The family group has now made over forty trips to Washington to advocate for their safety cause.