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Nearly 100 Members Join Higgins, Slaughter, Hochul, Reed in Fight for Action on Aviation Safety | News

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Nearly 100 Members Join Higgins, Slaughter, Hochul, Reed in Fight for Action on Aviation Safety

Directive on Pilot Fatigue Now Two Months Overdue

Congressmembers Brian Higgins (NY-27), Jean Schmidt (OH-2), Louise Slaughter (NY-28), Kathy Hochul (NY-26), and Tom Reed (NY-29) are continuing to keep up the pressure on completion of a federal aviation safety rule, now over two months delayed, and nearly 100 members of the House of Representatives are joining them in pushing for the rule to directly address issues related to pilot fatigue.    

“We are now 963 days past the horrific crash of Flight 3407 and with each tick of the clock without new pilot fatigue rules in place thousands of lives are put at risk,” said Congressman Higgins.   “Together we are sending a strong message that we can’t afford to put flight safety on standby.”

“I’ve said it before – and I’ll say it again -- these delays are unacceptable, unconscionably so,” said Congresswoman Slaughter. “Reducing pilot fatigue is a priority for the flying public and needs to be a priority for the federal government. We can’t have more errors, we can’t have more delays and we can’t have any more tragedies.”

“Today, with the backing of more than 100 Members of Congress, we are sending the message that the failures and shortfalls in our flight safety rules must be addressed immediately,” said Congresswoman Hochul.  “What happened in my district was a horrendous tragedy that could have been prevented; and the 103 Members of Congress who signed on to today’s letter recognize this problem and are taking steps to ensure this sort of tragedy never occurs in any district.”

“I again thank the Flight 3407 families for keeping a spotlight on the overdue fatigue policy,” said Congressman Reed. “I hope the FAA will finally move on this. If not, we now have 100 members of the House who will keep the pressure on them.”

“This tragedy touched home for me and many others in Greater Cincinnati because two of those who lost their lives were from the Loveland area,” said Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee. "Life is precious, and the pending pilot fatigue rule would help ensure our nation has the best safety standards possible with regard to flying.”

On February 12, 2009 Continental Connection Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Airlines, crashed in Western New York killing all passengers and crew on board, along with one person on the ground.  The crash brought to light serious deficiencies with prevention and handling of pilot fatigue, pilot training requirements, and differing levels of safety between regional and major carriers among others, prompting Congress to pass legislation to address these issues (P.L. 111-216).  The law required the FAA to finalize the pilot flight and duty time regulation based on the best-available science to address pilot fatigue by August 1, 2011. 

"Once again Congress is sending a resounding bipartisan message to the President and his agencies of how critical it is to address the dangers of pilot fatigue," declared Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister and prominent 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert on Flight 3407.  "After twenty years of obstruction by the airlines and their lobbyists, any further delays in issuing a final flight and duty time rule are absolutely unacceptable.  We thank the Western New York delegation - Reps. Higgins, Slaughter, Hochul, and Reed - as well as Reps. Schmidt and Stivers, for their leadership on this initiative, and we thank every co-signer from all corners of the country who once again reaffirmed the landmark aviation safety law that was passed unanimously by both houses, and signed into law by the President in August 2010."

The need for pilot fatigue rules is also supported by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). 

Capt. Lee Moak, president of ALPA, said, “The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l strongly supports science-based, flight- and duty-time regulations and minimum rest requirements for all passenger and all-cargo operations. Our pilots believe that the traveling public – including our troops – rely on safe air transportation and that they should have the security of knowing that their aircraft is flown by a well-rested pilot. We should not put a cost on the safety of our air transportation system. The Obama administration must authorize the FAA to proceed now with issuing these important safety regulations.”

In total 103 members have signed onto the letter calling for action on the rule.  Below is the text of the letter:

Dear Mr. President:

We write to share our disappointment with the delay implementing a critical aviation safety rule.

In the wake of the tragic 2009 Colgan Air crash near Buffalo, NY, the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (PL 111-216) required the new pilot flight and duty time rulemaking to be finalized by August 1, 2011.

The National Transportation Safety Board has included pilot fatigue on its Most Wanted List for more than twenty years.  Pilot rest rules have not kept pace with changes in operating conditions, equipment, and technology.  A final rule – which is based on science and which has been thoroughly vetted and reviewed – is inexplicably stalled.

A congressional mandate to issue a final rule is more than a month overdue.  The traveling public and all those who rely on our nation’s air transport system deserve one level of safety.  It also is imperative that the reforms and safety improvements the families of the victims of the Colgan Air crash fought so hard for last year move forward without hindrance.

We urge you to complete any remaining review so a final rule can be issued as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Higgins, Schmidt, Hochul, Reed, Slaughter, Stivers, Rahall, Costello, Filner, Bordallo, Holden, Connolly, Cuellar, Ross, Carson, Maloney, Nadler, Boswell, LaTourette, Jackson Jr., Hartzler, McCollum, Sires, Holt, D.Scott, Pallone, Hastings, Engel, Pascrell, Speier, King, Schiff, Jones, Turner, Carnahan, Austria, Israel, Velazquez, Richardson, Michaud, Lofgren, Gerlach, Stark, Hunter, D. Price, Ackerman, Capuano, DeGette, Brown, Cravaack, Critz, Berkley, Cohen, LoBiondo, Hirono, G.Miller, B. Johnson, Bishop, Conyers, Heinrich, Deutch, Rush, Holmes Norton, J. Lewis, DeFazio, Courtney, Linda Sánchez, Lipinski, Schakowsky, Lynch, Doggett, Loebsack, Hahn, Baca, Garamendi, Blumenauer, Grijalva, Cummings, Dent, Ellison, Gibson, Tonko, McCarthy, Kucinich, Hanabusa, Welch, Himes, Gonzalez, Tiberi, DeLauro, C. Miller, Hinchey, Owens, R.Brady, L. Smith, Honda, Roybal-Allard, Altmire, Runyan, B. Miller, Moran, Sutton, Duffy

 

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