3407 Widow: Southwest accident proves need for hands-on pilot training

Posted at 2:10 PM, Apr 20, 2018
and last updated 2019-01-22 16:30:32-05

Jennifer West, who lost her husband in the 2009 crash of Continental Airlines Flight 3407 in Clarence Center, is reacting to reports that Southwest Airlines wanted to delay inspections on the type of engine that exploded in-flight this week killing a passenger.

"For them, it is always about the almighty dollar.  It seems like lives don't matter," said West.

The fatality on the Southwest Airlines flight was the first death of a passenger on a commercial flight in the U.S. since the Flight 3407 tragedy.

West believes the incident also highlights the importance of not reducing hands-on flight training for commercial pilots - an airline industry proposal that the Families of Flight 3407 are now fighting against.

After the crash of Flight 3407, the families were successful in getting a law passed that requires commercial pilots to have 1,500 hours of actual in-cockpit flight time.

However, the airline industry is trying to have that changed so classroom and simulator training can be used to reduce the actual number of flight hours a new commercial pilot needs.  Airlines are complaining that the requirement is making it hard for them to hire pilots.

The proposal is still being reviewed by the FAA. 

Jennifer West was one of several members from the Families of Flight 3407 who met with the FAA in February 2018 arguing against any changes to commercial pilot training.

Many are crediting the pilot of the crippled Southwest Airlines flight, who is a female, former U.S. Navy pilot, as being a hero because of her calm composure in getting the badly damaged plane safely to a landing in Philadelphia.

Jennifer West believes this bolsters the 3407 Families' argument as to why actual flight experience is so crucial and should not be changed.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his report.

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