Flight 3407 Families, Sullenberger Denounce Republic Airways’ Effort to Weaken Safety

Miracle on the Hudson Pilot Rebuts Attempt to Equate Airline's Training Program to Military's

With news that regional carrier Republic Airways has petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration for an exemption to the foundation of the landmark aviation law unanimously passed by Congress in 2010 in response to the tragic crash of Flight 3407, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407' strenuously objected and called on acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen to reject the proposal in the strongest and swiftest manner possible.

“Obviously a very calculated move by Bryan Bedford and his regional airline cronies to wait for Administrator Dickson to step aside and then to try to pull a fast one when no one was watching or there was hopefully a sympathetic acting Administrator,” declared John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty four year old daughter Ellyce when the plane crashed less than a mile from their family home.  “We are counting on the Biden Administration to be wise enough to see through this smokescreen and ensure that the FAA sends a strong message against it.”

The core premise of the Republic Airways' request is that they should be allowed to circumvent the heightened experience requirements enacted in the aftermath of the Flight 3407 tragedy, with a program narrowly geared to training pilots in the specifics of a highly-automated cockpit.  The company argues that participants in its training program should receive the same experience credit towards an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license as is currently awarded to pilots who go through a military flight training program.

“As we have said for over 13 years now, let's listen to the true experts like Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles in terms of what is the best way to prepare a commercial airline pilot to calmly and competently respond to a situation which is not addressed in a manual or encountered in everyday flying,” stated Scott Maurer of Palmetto, Florida, who lost his thirty year old daughter Lorin, an athletic department fundraiser at Princeton University.  “Captain Sullenberger could not be any more emphatic in his statement that there is absolutely no comparison between this training program, no matter how robust Republic considers it to be, and what is offered by the United States military.” 

The family group cited the sterling safety record that has been produced as a result of the landmark regional airline safety legislation, which included the increased experience requirements, as proof that the FAA and Congress should not modify the current safety regulations in any way.

“Let's recognize these repeated efforts over the past decade for what they truly are; an attempt to rush pilots to the cockpits of commercial airliners and fatten corporate bottom lines at the same time,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister Beverly Eckert, a prominent 9/11 widow and activist. “The regionals essentially are objecting to a young pilot gaining an additional 12 to 24 months of seasoning while they accrue these additional hours of experience.  That is hardly unreasonable when you consider what an aspiring doctor must go through prior to being entrusted with the lives of patients.  Sully and Jeff Skiles have impressed upon us the importance of all the experiences that a young pilot amasses outside of a training environment early in their development, including hand-flying, reacting to adverse weather conditions, and various other decisions that must be made.  Shame on us if we ignore the lesson of Flight 3407 and multiple other recent international safety incidents where a pilot was unable to recognize and react to a situation that went beyond the scope of the technology in the cockpit.”

 Statement from Sully Sullenberger

LOS ANGELES – SEP 8: Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger arrives to the “Sully” Los Angeles Industry Screening on September 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA

Once again, regional airlines, for their own expedience, are trying to weaken critically important pilot experience standards that are needed to keep passengers and crews safe, and that since they were instituted have resulted in the absolute safest period of air travel in history – over 13 years without a single fatal airline crash in the United States, an unprecedented achievement.

This latest attempt to water down pilot experience standards asks the FAA to waive the rules to allow airlines to use pilots with only a fraction of the required experience by giving them the same credit for experience that pilots trained by the U.S. military have. Let me be clear: there is no civilian flight training equal to the screening, comprehensiveness, rigor, discipline, or culture of excellence of U.S. military flight training. None. Like all their other attempts over many years, this one must be batted down. Instead of trying to find ways to cheapen and quicken flight training, the industry needs to find ways to arm pilots with all the knowledge, skill, experience and judgment to be able to handle whatever challenge they might suddenly face. We owe it to everyone who flies to do nothing less.

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We are the family members and close friends of the victims who perished onboard Continental flight 3407 on February 12, 2009. Immediately following the accident many of us gathered in Buffalo looking for answers and trying to come to terms with the grief of losing a loved one in such a sudden and tragic manner. In the days and weeks following the accident, we came together as a newfound family: looking to each other for support, strength, and a sense of community. As a group, we don’t ever wish to see another family have to endure the pain and suffering we have endured and are therefore committed to promoting positive changes related to aviation safety. We have committed a great deal of time to learning the causes of this accident as well as other areas for improvement in the current aviation industry. Through our unyielding efforts, we have helped influence the passage of PL 111-216, the most comprehensive aviation safety legislative reform in history. Although we have made great progress in our efforts thus far, we will continue to push for the effective and complete implementation of new safety regulations. All of our current efforts will be published on this site, so please check back frequently.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Military training isn’t the only way to work towards an ATP certificate. Also EASA has had a very similar program to what Republic is proposing for years. It seems like you don’t know very much about aviation.

  2. Amen, i could not agree more. As a retired airline pilot ,and CFI for over fifty years we have gone through a lot of changes for the better. In 1966 when I got hired the airlines were changing to jets. Flight engineers had to be pilot trained and low time pilots were forced fed training to become flight engineers. In that day it worked well. Each individual airline developed good methods training with their company. Since then, we have had many positive changes to training. Standardization between airlines with similar equipment, better CRM (cockpit resource management), Technique advanced avionics. This has not only created a safer airline environment but a more complicated one. As a result, it takes an induvial that is willing to spend one to two years learning the trade. A military pilot is not necessarily smarter but has a willingness to buckle and learn similar the civilian has during time they obtain 1200 hours. There is no short cut because you can not change human nature.
    In the autumn of my career, I have a couple of programs I am trying to develop:
    1. The first 20 hours. This is where all zero-time pilots through basic aerodynamics in small aircraft, prior to solo.
    2. As a part time check instructor at a flight school, I am working with new pilots to get the most of of their first 1000 hours.
    3. Organizing better proficiency training.
    I am just one person working with only five instructors now, but I strongly feel this is the way to go.

    Jim Hamilton- Eastern Airlines

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