Delays and missed deadlines by the Federal Aviation Administration in implementing landmark aviation safety legislation have gone long past unconscionable to a whole new realm of pandering to the airline industry. Or worse, just a general lack of competence.
In a stunning failure, the FAA has not implemented the full set of aviation safety measures that Congress passed following the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407, which killed 50 people nearly four years ago in Clarence.
That’s the conclusion of the Department of Transportation’s inspector general following an investigation of the FAA’s progress in implementing the 2010 law. While many elements of the act have been implemented, the effort to make it safer to fly is far from complete.
The FAA has missed these deadlines:
• Aug. 1, 2011, for developing a mentoring program in which captains work with inexperienced first officers.
• Oct. 1, 2011, for finalizing more-modern pilot training rules that will require more hands-on learning.
• Aug. 1, 2012, for boosting qualifications and experience requirements for commercial pilots.
Federal investigators blamed the Clarence crash on pilot error by Flight 3407’s inexperienced crew.
The lack of attention the FAA is devoting to small regional airlines is appalling. The flying public following the sluggish progress on implementing these safety measures has to be skeptical, if not nervous, about whether pilots have had sufficient training. It’s an unnecessary uneasiness.
The Families of Continental Flight 3407 have fought hard to ensure no one else experiences their pain. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is pushing, with other lawmakers, to keep the issue front and center. The good news for passengers is that those advocates aren’t letting up on the pressure.
A significant number of people who lost loved ones in the Feb. 12, 2009, crash will be in Washington this week on the anniversary. What they want is simple: progress on the aviation safety measures. It’s what everyone should want.