And, again, the Federal Aviation Administration looks to be trying to weaken the new flight safety rules enacted by Congress in the aftermath of the deadly 2009 crash in Clarence Center. It’s becoming routine, and the FAA is beginning to show what appear to be its true colors – more concerned with satisfying the airline industry than it is in ensuring air safety.
Let’s be clear: Fifty people died here because of poor pilot training. Flight Capt. Marvin D. Renslow took the exact opposite action the situation required when Continental Connection Flight 3407 stalled due to dangerously slow air speed. That’s why the Families of Flight 3407 campaigned and, with the muscular help of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., fought for legislation increasing training requirements for new pilots.
The law was passed and virtually since that day, the airlines, the FAA and even some in Congress have sought to subvert it. Schumer has helped to fight back against those efforts and we presume he will monitor this latest maneuver to ensure that the law is fully implemented.
Industry leaders are shedding crocodile tears about a lack of pilots because of the new training requirements. Basically, they want to continue, as much as possible, operating in the same way: underpaying and overworking pilots whose training doesn’t cost too much. It’s a cynical game whose consequence played out in Clarence Center five years ago.
This issue cries out not just for our congressional delegation and the Families of Flight 3407 to stand firm on this issue, but for Congress to evaluate the function and performance of the FAA. If it has been so badly infiltrated by the airline industry that it cannot reliably implement safety laws passed by Congress and supported by Americans, then perhaps its mission and organizational structure – including its lines of accountability – need to be re-evaluated.
The crash of Flight 3407 was a watershed moment. Too many Americans are being flown on regional carriers, profiting the large airlines at the expense of passengers whose safety has been placed in the hands of inadequately trained, poorly compensated cockpit crews.
That changed with the ensuing legislation. It needs to stay changed.