Families of Flight 3407 victims plan to fight aviation safety bill on Capitol Hill

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – It’s been 8 years since the families of victims killed in Flight 3407 rallied in Washington to change aviation safety laws.

They successfully fought for tougher safety standards for pilots, including at least 15-hundred hours of training. Now, airlines are looking to make changes to the airline safety bill.

Karen Eckert says she’s going to continue to fight to put the most experienced pilot in the cockpit.She said, “This is what happens when you tamper with safety initiatives. This is what happens if you go back down that road. What happened to the airline industry and the shortcuts in safety affected us. We lost our loved ones.”

She lost her sister Beverly in Flight 3407. Eckert said, “She was our queen of fun in our house, we miss her, we really really miss her.”

Eckert fought to put the tougher pilot training standards into action. Now regional airlines and some aviation experts are saying it doesn’t make flying any safer- only adding to the pilot shortage problem. Something Eckert says she disagrees with.

She said, “In 2009, where you hired low-level, low-experienced level pilots, give them an airline training course, and hope it clicks when you put them in the cockpit and let them do the on the job training.”

Now the airlines want congress to make changes, and are circulating an eight-page proposal. Included in that, unaccredited flight schools would count towards the flight experience requirement. Eckert said, “It’s not 4 years, and they push them through so they can get them in the cockpit. That’s not independently accredited, that should not get credit hours for training, that’s their job.”

Shes now calling on leaders like Chris Collins to put a stop to this proposal passing. He says that is something leaders on both sides of the aisle will get behind. Collins said, “Senator Schumer and I don’t agree on much, this is something we absolutely agree on. So I would fight this tooth and nail in the house, I know as the minority leader, he will fight it tooth and nail in the Senate, and anything like this would be subject to the filibuster.”

Pilot Unions in the United States have said low wages and scarce benefits for entry-level positions are stopping a new generation of potential pilots from pursuing the field.

Next week families of Flight 3407 will be on Capitol Hill wearing pictures of their lost loved ones around their necks, they say to show the fatal impact of safety changes.

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