Families continue pushing to maintain flight safety rules

Feb 16, 2018

Along with remembering their loved ones, the Families of Continental Flight 3407 marked the 9th anniversary of the fatal crash by continuing their push for airline safety.

All 49 people aboard Flight 3407, and one man on the ground, were killed when the commuter plane, scheduled to land at the Buffalo Airport, fell on a house, on Long Road, February 12, 2009.
Credit WBFO file photo

Relatives of some of the 50 people killed in the crash of Flight 3407, in Clarence Center, traveled to Washington, Thursday, to meet with members of the House and Senate. And also with the FAA's new associate administrator for safety.

"Of course our big question for him was, we don't want any pressure on the rule that is in existence now that raised pilot qualifications," said Karen Eckert. She was among the Family members who pushed for passage of the rule in 2010. It requires a minimum of 1500 hours in the cockpit before pilots can work for a commercial airline.

Investigators cited pilot error and lack of experience for Flight 3407's fall from the sky. But Eckert, who lost her sister Beverly Eckert in the crash, says industry lobbyists keep telling Congress about the need to ease pilot shortages.
    
"That's a separate conversation from safety. There are different avenues to address anything they say is a pilot shortage. And we've been talking about those. Loan forgiveness for colleges. Better career paths. Better pathways from the regional airlines to the majors. Those are the conversations that should be taking place and not just going to the old fall back, 'well let's do it the way we used to do it when we could hire lower-level pilots," Eckert said.
 
Congressman Brian Higgins says, he'll continue working to ensure there's no roll back of the safety standards.
    
"They're important. They're fact based. And we have not had a commercial airline casualty since 3407, which, I think, is attributed in large part to the extraordinary dedication and commitment of these families," Higgins said.  
    
Eckert says, they received "assurance" from the FAA that the agency is "committed to safety first and safety foremost."