A Senate committee has voted to approve the weakening of pilot qualifications in legislation fought for by the families of those lost on Flight 3407.
The committee agreed on the amendment that would make it easier for pilots to get flight credit hours required by law before they can fly a passenger plane, by allowing experience at various training courses.
Family members of Flight 3407 victims have been in Washington, D.C. fighting against the weakening of the regulations. They criticized senators for passing the amendment, and ignoring testimony given by Captain Sully Sullenberger, at a hearing back in 2015. Sullenberger was the pilot behind the "Miracle on the Hudson" emergency landing. He and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles helped push for stronger safety regulations. Scott Maurer lost his daughter Lorin in the crash, and spoke out following the passage of the amendment.
"It was extremely disappointing for us to watch the events of this week unfold, but along with Sully, Skiles, and anyone else who puts safety first across this country, we remain as committed as ever to fighting to ensure that this dangerous language does not make its way into law," Maurer said.
Meantime New York Senator Charles Schumer has threatened to block the legislation.
Here is the statement from Sen. Schumer:
"I'll continue to do everything I can to ensure that any effort to water down these rules never becomes law. "For years I've fought alongside the families of Flight 3407 and my Western New York Congressional colleagues to protect these important rules that have improved aviation safety and today's amendment has just redoubled our resolve. While we all share a desire to improve rural air service, those improvements simply cannot come at the expense of safety."
Additionally, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released a statement saying:
“I am extremely disappointed that the Commerce Committee chose to include language to weaken pilot qualifications in the FAA bill. Passenger safety should be our highest priority and should never be a partisan issue. There is no credible argument to weaken these rules and I will work with my colleagues to remove this dangerous language on the Senate floor. I urge my Republican colleagues to stand with the Flight 3407 families in preserving one level of safety for all airlines.”
Congressman Chris Collins also released a statement concerning the vote:
“I promised the Flight 3407 families that I would do everything I can to ensure the aviation safety standards are reauthorized, not watered down—and that is exactly what I intend to do. I am extremely concerned with the current language in the Senate FAA reauthorization bill, as it puts the flying public at risk and reverses the significant progress we’ve made improving aviation safety in the United States. I stand with the Flight 3407 families and my Western New York colleagues who believe we must protect the safety of the American people, not the interests of regional airlines.”
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly spoke with some family members who lost loved ones in the crash of Continental Flight 3407 - including 10-year-old Summer West, whose father Ernie was killed.