Flight 3407 Families Take on The Airline Lobby

September 15, 2011

It’s been two months since the FAA was scheduled to enact new pilot fatigue and training rules. On Tuesday, the families of Continental Flight 3407 visited the White House to protest what they say is “heavy pressure” from the airline industry to “stall this crucial safety initiative.”

The new regulations are largely a response to the finding that pilot error was the cause of the 2009 crash of Flight 3407 in Buffalo that killed all 49 people on board and one on the ground.

The Buffalo News found that at least 44 airline industry lobbyists have met with Obama administration officials in at least six meetings during July and August. Attendees included the Air Transportation Association, Jet-Blue, Southwest, UPS and FedEx.

The regulations are stalled in the Office of Management and Budget, and money, of course, is at the heart of the issue. According to the News:

While the FAA says the new rules will cost the industry $1.25 billion to implement over 10 years, the industry cited a consultant’s study putting the cost at $19.64 billion.

And while Airport Transportation Association spokesman Steve Lott says the industry is willing to concede to some of the regulations, including modernizing “pilot flight and duty time rules,” family members say this isn’t enough. Says Kevin Kuwik, whose girlfriend Lorin Maurer died in the crash:

They just want to delay and delay and delay, maybe until there’s a more industry-friendly administration. They’re just trying to outlast everybody.

It’s not known when the Office of Management and Budget plans to act — or not — on implementing the regulations.

Photo: Family and friends of Continental Flight 3407 crash victims listen to airline executives testify during a House subcommittee hearing in 2010. (AP/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

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