Families of Flight 3407 concerned with changes to first officer qualifications

Families of the victims of Colgan Air Flight 3407 have expressed concern about the latest FAA Reauthorization Bill
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The families of the Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash victims have expressed concern that the new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill will weaken airline safety in the United States (US). 

51 people lost their lives in the fatal crash, including one person on the ground.  

In a public statement released on June 13, 2023, family members and close friends of the victims of the 2009 accident said they would attend the mark up session for the bill and expressed their “concern that some key components of the bill will weaken the First Officer pilot qualifications which were established in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2010 and have been pivotal in reducing commercial airline fatalities in the US”. 

Scott Maurer, a family member of one of the victims said: “The track record that has resulted from the mandates included in the 2010 legislation is indisputable.  Those safety mandates work in tandem.  This is the safest period in US aviation history and the First Officer qualifications have played a critical role in this.” Stating that there has not been a single fatality in a crash in the US since 2009, Maurer noted: “if it’s not broken, why fix it?”.  

The group, which unites relatives of the fatal Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash, had been pivotal in changing US legislation, to ensure carriers only employ first officers once they have accumulated 1,500 flight hours. They continued their efforts even after the changes were enforced, fighting what they refer to as “aggressive and well-financed lobbying campaigns over the years”. 

“With the new bill moving forward, the First Officer qualifications and the other provisions are again being reviewed,” stated Karen Eckert, another relative of victim in the accident. 

Flight 3407, a regularly scheduled flight operated by Colgan Air on behalf of Continental Airlines, crashed on approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) when it was coming to land from New Jersey Newark International Airport (EWR). The National Safety Transportation Board (NTSB) concluded that three out of four possible causes were related to the actions of the pilots. 

The changes were introduced once then-President Barrack Obama signed the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 in August 2010. The bill introduced more stringent flight hour requirements for Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate holders, while all Part 121 had to have an ATP from August 2, 2013. 

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