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ON ANNIVERSARY OF FLIGHT 3407, SENATOR GILLIBRAND, REPRESENTATIVES HIGGINS AND JACOBS CALL FOR FINALIZATION OF PILOT RECORDS DATABASE RULE

Feb 12, 2021
Press Release
For Years The Western New York Delegation Has Fought Tirelessly Alongside Flight 3407 Families To Implement Flight Safety Regulations; Now Lawmakers Are Urging FAA To Prioritize Safety And Finalize Last Unfinished Rule, The Establishment Of A Pilot Record Database

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the 12th anniversary of the Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representatives Brian Higgins and Chris Jacobs are calling for the immediate finalization of pilot records database rule. The pilot records database rule — which was developed alongside the families of those killed in Flight 3407 and is required under the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-216) — would create a centralized electronic database for airlines to access shared records containing relevant background data on pilots, including regarding training, qualifications, and disciplinary actions. In a letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the lawmakers claim the completion of the rulemaking is long overdue and urge Secretary Buttigieg to direct the FAA to finalize the important safety rule without any further delay. 

“In the years since the crash, we have worked closely with the families of those who were killed to enact the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-216), which required the Department of Transportation to implement a number of rulemakings to establish the goal of “one level of safety” for all passengers and crews.  Due to the tenacious and effective advocacy of the families, we have accomplished many of the goals we set out to achieve. However, there remains one unfinished rulemaking required by P.L. 111-216, to finalize the establishment of a pilot record database,” said the Western New York delegation. 

The lawmakers continue, the completion of this rulemaking is overdue. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on March 30, 2020, however, a final rule has not yet been issued. We urge you to prioritize aviation safety by directing the FAA to finalize this important safety rule without any further delay.”

The tragic February 2009 crash of Continental Flight 3407 near Buffalo, New York, claimed 50 lives and alerted the nation to the shortfalls in our aviation safety system, particularly at the regional airline level. In the wake of the tragedy, the Western New York delegation worked together with the families of those lost in the crash to pass the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010. This landmark aviation safety legislation addressed many of the factors contributing to the increasing safety gap between regional and mainline carriers by requiring the FAA to develop regulations to improve safety, including enhanced entry-level pilot training and qualification standards, pilot fatigue rules, airline pilot training and safety management programs, and through the creation of an electronic pilot record database.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below. 

Dear Secretary Buttigieg,

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the horrific crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Clarence Center, New York, which resulted in the tragic deaths of all on board and one person on the ground. 

In the years since the crash, we have worked closely with the families of those who were killed to enact the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-216), which required the Department of Transportation to implement a number of rulemakings to establish the goal of “one level of safety” for all passengers and crews.  Due to the tenacious and effective advocacy of the families, we have accomplished many of the goals we set out to achieve.  However, there remains one unfinished rulemaking required by P.L. 111-216, to finalize the establishment of a pilot record database.

The pilot record database is necessary so that airlines have a centralized electronic database that will allow them to access shared records containing relevant background data on pilots, including regarding training, qualifications, and disciplinary actions.  The captain of Flight 3407 failed three practical tests known as “check rides” but only disclosed one to the regional airline that hired him. Access to these records is critical to ensuring that airlines have as much information as possible about a pilot’s qualifications and safety records prior to making a hiring decision. 

The completion of this rulemaking is overdue.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on March 30, 2020, however, a final rule has not yet been issued.  We urge you to prioritize aviation safety by directing the FAA to finalize this important safety rule without any further delay. 

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter, and please do not hesitate to contact our relevant staff members should you wish to discuss this matter in greater detail.

Sincerely,