Family of Flight 3407 victims push for FAA reauthorization

Current funding for FAA expires this Sunday

Mike Baggerman
September 24, 2018 - 2:31 pm

Flight 3407. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Family members of Flight 3407 victims were joined by Congressman Brian Higgins at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport on Monday to push for the reauthorization of the FAA.

"Every time this reauthorization comes up to be renewed or for an extension, the lobbyists and the regional airline industries try to roll back the safety provisions already put in place since the crash of Flight 3407," Karen Eckhert, who lost her sister, Beverly, in the crash. "They do it by pressing congress to put in amendments that favor them. They're paid a lot of money to do that and they're a constant presence on Capitol Hill trying to get their way. They use a lot of a fancy words. But ultimately, they have one goal. It's to water down, roll back, or weaken the higher-experience requirements for regional airline first officers that were put in place as a result of the crash of Flight 3407."

A bi-partisan agreement was made in the House and Senate to pass a five-year reauthorization bill over the weekend and a vote could come on it as early as Wednesday. Since 2015, the FAA operated under five short-term extensions of the FAA's legislative authority. The most recent short-term extension will expire this Sunday. 

"The National Transportation Safety Board came out to Buffalo in the aftermath of 3407, did a comprehensive investigation to determine probable cause for this accident," Higgins said. "That study, that conclusion, was used as a basis from which we advanced legislation." 

Before the crash in Clarence on February 12, 2009, pilots with as few as 250 hours of flight time were qualified to fly commercial airliners. Following the push by the victim's families, the requirement increased to 1,500 hours of flight time training. According to a press release by Higgins' office, the FAA reauthorization bill does not include provisions to "water down" the 1,500-hour requirement.

Update: According to a release from Rep. Higgins office, the House of Representatives approved a five-year agreement to reauthorize the FAA. It also passed a one-week extension of the current agreement to allow the Senate to vote on it.

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