WASHINGTON – Sen. Charles E. Schumer on Thursday complained to the head of the Federal Aviation Administration about the agency’s possible attempt to water down aviation safety provisions enacted in the wake of the 2009 crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Clarence Center.
The Families of Continental Flight 3407 earlier this week revealed that the FAA had convened a committee – whose co-chairman was an executive from the nation’s most prominent airline industry group – to revisit the toughened pilot training and qualifications standards mandated by Congress and implemented after the crash.
Hearing that, Schumer, a New York Democrat who played a leading role in passing the post-crash aviation safety legislation in 2010, wrote to FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta to protest.
“I am very concerned that this (committee) may slow down and even reverse some of the progress that has been made on behalf of passenger safety,” Schumer wrote. “Since these meetings are closed-door, we have no idea what kinds of actions the committee may be considering. But we do know that this 15-member committee includes a number of representatives from the airline industry.”
Schumer urged Huerta to include representatives from consumer and aviation safety groups on the committee that is studying the pilot-training and qualification regulations.
The formation of the committee in April came amid vehement protests from the airline industry about a new requirement that co-pilots have 1,500 hours of flight experience before flying commercial flights. Regional airlines have complained that this requirement, implemented last year, is causing a pilot shortage.
The FAA has not responded to detailed questions from The Buffalo News about the committee.