Buffalo, New York – To address concerns raised by families of the victims of Colgan Air Flight 3407 and take a major step forward to strengthening air safety standards, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the crux of the Flight 3407 Memorial Act will be included in a broad overhaul of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Senator Gillibrand’s legislation would require the FAA to report back to Congress on all new safety recommendations issues by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigative reports.
“This will ensure that the voices of the families are not only heard, but responded to,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Time and time again the FAA has failed to enhance training requirements and other safety measures. Ignoring safety recommendations puts innocent lives at risk. It is time to learn the lessons of the past, change the culture of inaction, and make air travel safer for all of us.”
Senator Gillibrand will pass her proposal as part of the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act, which will bring accountability to the FAA by strengthening current reporting requirements to ensure to that NTSB safety recommendations – like the 25 new and 3 previous recommendations included in the NTSB’s February 2, 2010 final report from the Flight 3407 incident – are reviewed and responded to, not simply acknowledged that they been received with little more than a yes, no or maybe response.
The requirements of the FAA in the Flight 3407 Memorial Act that Senator Gillibrand authored include the following:
- The Secretary of Transportation must send an annual report to Congress and the NTSB detailing:
- All recommendations that the Secretary has enacted or intends to enact
- Details on the procedures for adoption of recommendations or parts of recommendations
- Reasons for refusing to carry out all or part of recommendations
- The Secretary must include details on plans to enact recommendations that includes:
- A description of the recommendation
- A description on the procedures to enact all or part of a recommendation
- A timeline on enacting all or part of a recommendation
- If the timeline is not met, detailed explanation as to why all or part of a recommendation has not been enacted on the dates the Secretary lays out
- For recommendations or parts of recommendations the Secretary refuses to enact the Secretary must:
- A description of the recommendation
- Detailed reasons the Secretary refuses to carry out all or part of a recommendations
In May 2009, after meeting with the families of the Flight 3407 crash near Buffalo, Senator Gillibrand asked that the NTSB ensure that needed changes in the airline system are not ignored. During the NTSB investigative hearings, families heard of the system wide failures – from training to crewmember fatigue – that led to the Flight 3407 crash. Senator Gillibrand wants to ensure that needed reforms and changes in the system are implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration.
In June 2009, Senator Gillibrand submitted questions from the family members of victims in the Flight 3407 crash near Buffalo about fundamental failures in our aviation system at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Aviation Safety & FAA Oversight. Senator Gillibrand wanted to ensure that their questions about a variety of safety issues were answered by Agency leadership. To that end, Senator Gillibrand asked family members to submit questions to her office, and in turn, Subcommittee Chairman Byron Dorgan agreed to submit them for the record, and were answered in writing.
In addition, Senator Gillibrand has worked with her colleagues and the Families of Flight 3407 on a number of bills to address safety concerns in the airline industry. She is an original cosponsor of S. 1744; legislation that would increase the minimum flight time requirements that a pilot must have in order to be hired by a commercial airline. She is also a cosponsor of S. 1284, which would implement a number of outstanding recommendations from the FAA as well as requiring the FAA to address issues such as pilot fatigue, safety of regional aircraft, information relating to test failures.