The Federal Aviation Administration this week missed its self-imposed deadline for implementing new pilot training rules, citing the government shutdown as the reason.
But the Families of Continental Flight 3407 said Tuesday that they aren’t very happy about it.
“Obviously, the government shutdown offers a ready-made excuse to let the deadline slide and kick the can down the road like has been happening on this rule since it was first initiated back in 1999, and we are sure that the airlines and their lobbyists are celebrating this reprieve somewhere on K Street,” stated Scott Maurer, whose daughter, Lorin, was killed in the crash of Flight 3407, which claimed 50 lives in Clarence Center in February 2009.
The FAA had said that it would issue the new pilot training rules by Monday. With the 16-day government shutdown pushing back work on the rule, the families are suggesting that the agency set a new deadline of Nov. 6 – 16 workdays past the Oct. 16 end of the shutdown – to accommodate the time the government was shut over House Republican demands that Congress defund the Affordable Care Act.
The new training rules will require that pilots learn to fly in real-world conditions, including simulator training on handling sudden aircraft upsets such as the one that occurred on Flight 3407. Federal aviation safety officials blamed the crash on pilot error, in part because of a lack of such training.
The FAA, which has missed several deadlines for implementing the new pilot training rules, is blaming the latest delay on the shutdown.
Rep. Chris Collins, a Clarence Republican who voted for the tea party-inspired budget plans that led to the government shutdown, said: “The FAA has never met a deadline it honors or an excuse it doesn’t use to explain away its failures when it comes to implementing the flight safety regulations passed by Congress three years ago. … There is no excuse why the FAA cannot have the rule in place by Nov. 6.”