In Personal Letter To FAA Administrator Babbitt, Schumer Calls On Agency To Finalize Strong Regulations As Quickly As Possible
Schumer: We Have To Act Soon To Keep our Skies Safe
WASHINGTON, DC (release) On the one year anniversary of the passage of landmark legislation to improve air safety after the Continental Air Flight 3407 crash, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the FAA to finalize strong pilot fatigue regulations that are required by law as quickly as possible. The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Extension Act of 2010 requires the FAA to issue a final rule on pilot fatigue no later than today but the rule has not been published. In a personal letter to Administrator Babbitt, Schumer argues that finalizing a strong fatigue rule is critical to our aviation safety and will help keep overworked and overtired pilots out of the cockpit. In addition to the overdue fatigue regulations, rules on flight crew member mentoring as well as stall and upset recovery, stick pusher and weather event training are also behind schedule. By implementing these rules as quickly as possible, we can make sure that our planes are filled with qualified and alert air crews.
“Getting landmark air safety legislation passed was a big first step, but our work can’t stop there,” said Schumer. “As the past year has taught us, these regulations that will improve flight safety will constantly be under attack and must be protected. There are those who would delay or weaken new safety rules which is why we must push ahead with strong new rules. To honor the memory of those that perished in the Flight 3407 tragedy, I am strongly urging the FAA to finalize these rules that will make air travel safer.”
Schumer has worked with the families of the victims in the Continental Flight 3407 crash to significantly improve air travel safety in the wake of a crash investigation which determined that shockingly limited flying experience is required to be a co-pilot for a regional carrier. From the earliest days after the crash, Schumer and the families of the victims worked on legislation to close the gaps in airline safety that allowed this tragedy to occur and create one level of safety for all segments of the industry. Their efforts culminated in the passage of the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Extension Act last summer, which mandates new safety standards including increased training for pilots and stricter flight and duty time regulations to combat pilot fatigue. This law also requires that online vendors of airline tickets disclose, at first viewing, if the flight is operated by a regional carrier instead of a major carrier.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to Administrator Babbitt appears below:
Dear Administrator Babbitt:
On the first anniversary of passage of PL 111-216, the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Extension Act of 2010, landmark flight safety legislation, I write to you regarding implementation this law and to urge you to work quickly to finalize strong rules that will ensure one level of safety for the aviation industry.
The February 2009 crash of Continental Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo, New York, claimed fifty lives and alerted the nation to shortfalls in our aviation safety system, particularly at the regional airline level. In the wake of the crash, the families of those who lost their lives on that day came together and pushed for an overhaul of our nation’s aviation safety laws in order to prevent a tragedy like the crash of Flight 3407 from happening again. With the help of the families, my colleagues in Congress and I passed the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Extension Act and that bill was signed into law one year ago today.
Passage of the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Extension Act was truly a momentous achievement but our work is not done until all the provisions of the bill are fully enacted in a way that truly raises the bar for aviation safety and ensures one level of safety for all carriers and all passengers. I appreciate your efforts in establishing a pilot records database, as well as providing for safety inspections of regional air carriers. These programs are important because they not only enhance safety for the flying public but also reinforce a standard of excellence in aviation.
However, several important provisions still need to be enacted and I urge you to complete these on time and following Congressional intent. The Pilot fatigue and flight crew member training rulemakings are of paramount importance because the National Transportation Safety Board identified these points as contributing factors to the tragic crash in Buffalo, NY and remain a point of concern for the flying public. The law requires that FAA issue a final rule on pilot fatigue no later than today but that rule has not yet been published. Finalizing a strong fatigue rule is critical to our aviation safety and will help keep overworked and overtired pilots out of the cockpit. The regulations on flight crew member mentoring as well as stall and upset recovery, stick pusher and weather event training are also behind schedule and must be completed quickly because these important rulemakings protect the flying public by ensuring flight crew members have the proper qualifications and experience. I know that there are efforts on the part of industry to weaken these rules by stalling their implementation and undercutting their intent. This is unacceptable. In passing the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Extension Act of 2010, Congress intended that these provisions be enacted in a way that truly enhances aviation safety by ensuring pilots report to duty well rested and flight crewmembers are properly, rested, trained and qualified to fulfill their duties and I expect nothing less of the final rules.
Thank you for your attention to this important request. I know you share my concern for aviation safety and I look forward to working with you to raise the bar for aviation safety and ensure one level of safety for the aviation industry.
Charles E. Schumer