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Nearly four years later, aviation safety changes still stalled

Congressman Higgins with Flight 3407 family members
File photo provided by the office of Congressman Higgins
Congressman Higgins with Flight 3407 family members

The fourth anniversary of the crash of Flight 3407 is approaching and a number of aviation safety changes still have not gone into effect.

Area members of Congress say Washington is stalling on new aviation safety rules, under pressure from airline lobbyists.

The rules are the result of the safety deficiencies highlighted in February 2009 when 50 people were killed in the Clarence Center Crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407.

Once Congress passed new safety legislation, which includes rules for more pilot training, it was up to the Federal Aviation Administration to write the rules and put them into effect. That has not yet happened.

In a joint statement, Representatives Kathy Hochul, Louise Slaughter, Tom Reed, and Brian Higgins are calling on acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta not to give in to airline lobbyists.

Credit faa.gov
Area representatives are calling on Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to implement the new safety rules.

Higgins says members of Congress looked at the investigation of Flight 3407 and decided new safety rules were needed in a bipartisan manner.

"The Federal Aviation Administration is again dragging its feet, and I believe they're being pressured by the airline industry that doesn't want to incur the added expense. We're talking about keeping the flying public safe," said Higgins.

Higgins says he discussed some of the issues in recent meeting with Huerta.

"The Federal Aviation Administration has an obligation to fully embrace and implement the intent of Congress, and anything short of that is unacceptable," Higgins said.

He says if family members of the victims have to march on Washington to force the new rules, he will help.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.