Higgins, Slaughter and Hochul Mark National Aviation Day with Push for Swift Action to Address Pilot Fatigue

August 19, 2011 Updated Aug 19, 2011 at 11:49 AM EDT

By WKBW News


Brian Higgins

August 19, 2011 Updated Aug 19, 2011 at 11:49 AM EDT

(WKBW release) Western New York Congressmembers Brian Higgins, Louise Slaughter and Kathy Hochul sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget on Friday asking the agency to expedite their timeline for rulemaking associated with pilot fatigue.

The Department of Transportation is currently projecting new flight time and duty time rules, originally scheduled for release August 1, will not be published until November 22, 2011. The Members stress that reducing pilot fatigue has been listed as a priority by the National Transportation Safety Board for 20 years and the urgent need for changes are increasingly evident following the February 2009 crash of Flight 3407 in Western New York.

“For two decades the federal government has listed pilot fatigue as a problem, and dozens of families, including those linked to Flight 3407, have paid a monumental price for our Nation’s failure to address this issue in a timely manner,” said Higgins. “The American flying public deserves better. They deserve expeditious actions and serious attention to ensure the person sitting in the cockpit when they board that plane is adequately trained, prepared and rested.”

“I’m outraged that we’re encountering yet another delay,” said Slaughter. “We know what needs to be done – there must be a database of pilot records, we must do more to fight pilot fatigue and we must improve pilot training. These reforms are too important for any further delay. Here in Western New York we know the cost of turning a blind eye to flight safety. Reducing pilot fatigue is a priority for the flying public and needs to be a priority.”

“The families of the victims of Continental Flight 3407 have already waited over two and a half years to see their hard work passed into law and every day more we make them wait is not only an insult to those who perished on that February night, but also to every passenger who steps on a plane each and every day,” said Hochul. “This is my second inquiry in as many weeks to see what has delayed the implementation of the landmark legislation that will protect our passengers, yet I have received no response. I, and the people I represent, specifically the Flight 3407 families, demand to know when will the traveling public fly safer skies?”