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'Miracle' pilot joins Flight 3407 families' fight for aviation safety

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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The pilot who managed to safely land an airplane years ago on the Hudson River is now joining continuing fight over airline safety with the Families of Flight 3407.

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger appeared with Flight 3407 families and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer in Clarence Monday morning.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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U.S Senator Charles Schumer with Captain Sullenberger in Clarence.

The families have fought hard over the last six years to improve air safety, but now Schumer warns some in the airline industry are trying to convince the new Congress to water down the 2010 aviation safety law that called for stricter regulations. 

This Wednesday, the families will be back in Washington to continue their efforts. The pilot of the "Miracle on the Hudson" is vowing to help.

"To those in the industry who think that these safety requirements are too high or too costly or too inconvenient, I'd say come here to Buffalo. Come here to the crash site of Flight 3407. See the memorial. See the faces of those who have been lost," said Sullenberger.

"When it comes to costs, the real costs, the human costs, of not having the highest level, one level of safety, is a cost no family should ever have to bear."

Sullenberger says if Congress attempts to cut back on the regulations, he will do "whatever is required" to fight it. The airline industry claims there is a pilot shortage, but Sullenberger disputes that, noting that starting pay is low for new pilots.

"There are over 100,000 pilots with the licenses, already, that would qualify to be airline pilots. But they, because of the economics -- the entry level jobs, especially at the regional carriers for entry level jobs often qualify one for food stamps -- have chosen to go elsewhere, to some other industry," Sullenberger said.

Sullenberger says more pilot training hours is key.

"Two-hundred-fifty hours total time to be an airline pilot is laughable. It wasn't that many years ago that if you tried to apply for an airline job with that amount of time, they would laugh you out of the office. They'd say 'Come back when you have some real experience,'" Sullenberger added.  

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Cap. Sullenberger stand with Senator Schumer and some Flight 3407 families next to a wreath to mark the sixth anniversary of the crash.

Flight 3407 crashed into a home in Clarence Center in February of 2009, killing 50 people. Pilot error was cited as the cause of the crash. Flight 3407 family member John Kausner lost his daughter in the tragedy.

"Clearly to us there is a payment shortage then a pilot shortage. You can look today at  for advertisements for first offices, $16,000 a year," noted Kausner.
 

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