WNY Delegation Push For Safer Skies

August 20, 2011 Updated Aug 20, 2011 at 10:23 AM EDT

By WKBW News


WNY Delegation Push For Safer Skies

August 20, 2011 Updated Aug 20, 2011 at 10:23 AM EDT

WESTERN NEW YORK - ( release )Western New York Representatives Kathy Hochul (NY-26), Brian Higgins (NY-27), and Louise Slaughter (NY-28) sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget 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is currently projecting new flight time and duty time rules, originally scheduled for release August 1, will not be published until November 22, 2011.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 (NTSB) for 20 years and the urgent need for changes are increasingly evident following the February 2009 crash of Flight 3407 in Western New York.

"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 Congresswoman 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?"

"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 Congressman 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."

A full copy of the letter sent by Hochul, Higgins, and Slaughter can be found here.

August 19th was first recognized as National Aviation Day by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939. The observation coincides with the birthday of flying pioneer Orville Wright.

On National Aviation Day, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer released the following statement on the need for federal agencies to quickly implement pilot fatigue rules to prevent another tragedy like the Continental Flight 3407 crash:

"We can't afford to wait any longer for these regulations that could save lives and prevent future tragedies. Let National Aviation Day serve as an important reminder that we need to implement tough rules that prevent pilot fatigue as quickly as possible. We should honor the memory of the Flight 3407 victims by making our skies as safe as they can be." – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer

On August 1st, 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 one year after passage but the rule has not been published. In a personal letter to Administrator Babbitt, Schumer argued 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 crewmember 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.