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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 13, 2009

SCHUMER URGES FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION TO REEVALUATE TRAINING CRITERIA FOR PILOTS, EXAMINE ALL POSSIBLE CAUSES OF CRASH AND APPLY PREVENTATIVE SOLUTIONS


Review of Flight 3407 Reveal that Pilot Lacked Training in Certain Exercises Which May Have Contributed to Crash

In Letter to Transportation Secretary, Schumer Urges FAA to Reevaluate Training Criteria to Ensure All Pilots Can Properly Use Equipment -Minimize Human Error

Schumer: We Must Take All Necessary Precautions to Help Prevent this Tragedy from Happening Again

After meeting with nine family members of Flight 3407’s victims yesterday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today wrote to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood urging him to ensure that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reevaluate their training requirements for airline pilot training curricula. Hearings on the fateful crash of Flight 3407 indicate that the pilot of Colgan Air, Inc, the airline that operated Continental Connection Flight 3407, was not properly trained to use an anti-stall device on the aircraft, a factor which may have contributed to the eventual crash of the airplane.

 

To ensure that the FAA fully investigate all possible causes of the crash and work to implement preventative solutions, Senator Schumer today wrote to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood urging him to ensure that the FAA required training curriculum be immediately reevaluated.

 

“Yesterday we found out that the pilot of Flight 3407,” said Schumer. “While it is impossible to eliminate all human error, proper training can help to minimize the risk. I met with some of the family members of Flight 3407’s victims and learned first-hand of both their great suffering, and their great pursuit of answers as to what caused the tragic accident. As New York’s Senator, it is my responsibility to ensure the safety  

 

A full copy of the letter is below

 

 

Dear Secretary LaHood:

 

I write to express deep concern with an aspect of pilot training oversight and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  I understand that FAA requires a final sign off of all airline pilot training curriculum, and that Colgan Air, Inc, the airline that operated Continental Connection Flight 3407, has a curriculum that is in full FAA compliance.  I am troubled because the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has indicated, as a result of its hearings on the tragic crash of Flight 3407, that Colgan’s pilot was not properly trained to use an anti-stall device on the aircraft.  I ask that FAA immediately reevaluate their requirements for airline training curricula.

 

Colgan Air has an FAA-approved training program, which does not include a simulated training of a “stick-pusher” device.  A stick-pusher is a device used to help an aircraft recover from a stall.  Airline safety experts agree that classroom instruction of stick-pusher operation is likely inadequate, and that a hands-on simulator exercise would be better to teach pilots how to properly use the equipment.

 

A stick-pusher was present on the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft operated by Colgan pilot Captain Marvin Renslow, which crashed in Clarence, NY on February 12, 2009 and claimed fifty lives.  NTSB’s public hearings have revealed that Capt. Renslow did not properly operate the stick-pusher when the aircraft’s speed dropped dangerously low, and the aircraft lost lift before crashing just five miles from the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport runway.

 

I understand that NTSB’s investigation is on-going and that many reports are surfacing as to what may have caused the crash.  While we are not yet certain the extent to which human error played a role in the crash, we can be certain that FAA needs to work to reduce future human error, in an effort to avoid future crashes. 

 

I believe that FAA must start by reevaluating what it requires of airline training curricula.  NTSB’s hearings have indicated that lack of hands-on training of a stick-pusher may have played a role in the crash of Flight 3407, and I wonder what other important training exercises may be left of out of curricula.  I met with nine family members of Flight 3407’s victims and learned first-hand of both their great suffering, and their great pursuit of answers as to what caused the tragic accident.  I believe it would be a disservice to their efforts and the memory of their loved ones if we do not fully vet all possible causes of the crash, and work to implement preventative solutions. 

 

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter.  I know you share my commitment to aviation safety and will work to prevent future tragedies like the crash of Flight 3407.  If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Katie Kulpa in my Washington, DC office at 202-224-6542.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

 

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