Buffalo, New York Area Congressman  Pushes Back on Flight Safety Foundation’s Lax Position on Training Requirements for Commercial Pilots

With FAA Authorization Set to Expire on March 31st, U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins Rejects Attempts to Change Improvements Made Following the Crash of Flight 3407

“There is no give-and-take on flight safety.  Any effort to give up the flight safety improvements … threatens the lives of passengers.”  – Buffalo, New York  Area Congressman Brian Higgins

News from the Office of Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted March 8th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Buffalo, New York area Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins

(A Brief Foreword Note from Niagara At Large – To the extent people on the Canadian side of the border, fly commercial jets in and out of the airport in Buffalo – and many Canadians do – any weaking of rules for pilot flight training in the United States, is very much a concern to Canadians too. So people in both countries have a stake in Congressman Higgins’ efforts to keep training requirements for commercial airline pilots strong!)

Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins (a Democrat) is pushing back on a position paper recently released by the Flight Safety Foundation which suggests reducing the flight time requirements for new airline pilots. 

Higgins responded, “There is no give-and-take on flight safety.  Any effort to give up the flight safety improvements, based on lessons learned after Flight 3407 and recommendations made by professionals at the NTSB, threatens the lives of passengers.  Families in our community know the pain of what happens when tired, inexperienced pilots step into the cockpit.  We’ve successfully fought to protect other families from that pain and we’re not going back.”

The Flight Safety Foundation writes, “It cannot be assumed that critical skills and knowledge will be obtained only through hours in the air.”  They go on to say, “Today’s outstanding safety record in commercial aviation is largely the result of a wide variety of diligent efforts by thousands of aviation professionals around the world…It is not the result of any one factor, including any particular change in the hours requirement for pilot experience.”

Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed in Western New York on February 12, 2009, killing all aboard and one on the ground.  The families of Flight 3407 victims turned their loss into advocacy. With their help, in 2010 Congress enacted landmark aviation safety reform and the strongest passenger protections to date.  In the nearly nine years since, the United States has experienced zero commercial aviation fatalities on domestic airlines.

The smoldering wreckage of Flight 3407, taking all 49 people aboard and one person on the ground, outside of Buffalo, New York in the winter of 2009. Pilot error was largely responsible for the plane going down as it approached Buffalo’s airport. Family members, with the support of political representatives like Brian Higgins, fought for strong pilot training requirements in the wake of this disaster.

Prior to the Flight 3407 tragedy, pilots with as few as 250 hours of flight time were being qualified to fly commercial airliners.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in their review of the incident, identified serious safety deficiencies within the regional airline industry, including exhausting schedules, inexperienced pilots and insufficient training.

Comprehensive FAA Reauthorization legislation put new rules in place to prevent fatigue and implement new training standards including instruction on the prevention of aircraft stalls and the pilot qualification rule, which requires pilots to hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, typically attained through 1,500 hours of flight time.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), including its funding and authority, is currently operating under an extension, with the FAA’s authorization set to expire on March 31, 2018.  Congress must pass FAA reauthorization legislation before that deadline to continue FAA operations.  Some in the airline industry, and now the Flight Safety Foundation, are advocating for provisions that roll back flight time requirements for new pilots.

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For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders





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