A new database is being tested that allows airlines to check a pilot's credentials before they're hired. It's required as part of the safety regulations enacted after the crash of Flight 3407, in Clarence Center, that killed 50-people.
Had the data base been in place years ago, Congressman Brian Higgins says, Flight 3407 would not have crashed and no one would have lost their lives. Higgins points out, that the cause of the crash was pilot error.
"The individual that was the pilot that night had three violations only one of which he reported to the airline that ended up hiring him. If there was a data base in place, he would not have been hired, he would not have been in the cockpit, and fifty people would be alive today that lost their lives, on that February night, in 2009," Higgins said.
The Families of Continental Flight 3407 have been leading the fight for airline safety reform. Karen Eckert, who lost her sister Beverly Eckert in the crash, tells WBFO News that the old background check system was paper-based, took a long time, and was easy for pilots to hide things they didn't want an airline to know. Eckert says, it's a step in the right direction to have a pilot's FAA records available online. But she says, it's all voluntary at this point.
"But, once they test out this version of it, they expect it to work very seamlessly and easily. Then they're going to start adding more records like the driver's license database on all pilots and also former employers' records on a pilot. And then you're going to have a complete database with everything in one spot electronically and seamlessly," Eckert said.
Congressman Chris Collins, who lives near the crash site, said in a written statement that the Pilot Records Database "is a reflection of the significant progress made to make sure all pilots are well-trained and fit to fly" so that "senseless tragedies" can be prevented.