Email Showing That Colgan Air Had Concerns About The Skill Level Of Pilot At The Helm Of 3407 Before The Crash Took Two and A Half Years To Uncover

In Personal Letter To Senate Colleague & Subcommittee Chair Maria Cantwell, Schumer Asks Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation To Hold Hearings on Implementation of Flight Safety Rules Passed In The Wake Of The Crash, Including Why Emails Were Not Released

Schumer: Flight 3407 Families And All Air Passengers Deserve Answers


Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer asked the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Chairwoman, Maria Cantwell, to hold a hearing to evaluate progress implementing aviation safety reforms and to examine the implications of newly released emails that were not available during the initial crash investigation. Schumer’s call comes after Colgan Air released an email as part of legal proceedings relating to the crash that showed that the company lacked confidence in the skills of the pilot in command of Continental flight 3407. Schumer, and the families of the victims of the crash, expressed dismay at the fact that the emails were not provided to the National Transportation Safety Board during the course of their investigation of the crash. In light of this fact, Schumer is calling for Senate hearings on oversight of aviation safety rules to include a review of the investigation process to determine if that process can be improved or the NTSB needed additional authorities to carry out their work.


“In the years and months following the crash, the NTSB has worked tirelessly to get to the bottom of the crash and its causes,” said Schumer. “However, the fact that relevant emails were not shared with investigators compels us to take a closer look at how we investigate crashed to make sure NTSB has the best information possible when making critical safety recommendations. I hope that my good friend Senator Cantwell will hold hearings so that we can truly uncover every last stone, and see if there are more lessons to be learned that could lead to safer skies.”


Emails revealed in litigation over the crash show that Colgan Air had concerns that the pilot at the controls when Flight 3407 crashed was not properly trained to fly the plane that crashed. The fact that the emails were revealed in a court case, and not turned over to the NTSB during their investigation raises questions about the process through which information is provided to the NTSB and if there are ways to improve upon the investigation process.  during the NTSB’s investigation into the crash suggests that other details and key information could have slipped through the cracks and not received adequate attention during the federal investigation. In light of this revelation, Schumer is asking his colleague, Senator Cantwell, to hold hearings to review implementation of aviation safety legislation and to specifically examine the investigative process to make sure federal investigators have the tools and authorities they need to carry out their responsibilities.


A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to Senator Cantwell appears below:


October 25, 2011


The Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV


Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

254 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510


The Honorable Maria Cantwell


Senate Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee

427 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Rockefeller and Cantwell,


I write to request that you hold a hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee to review implementation of PL 111-216, The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Extension Act of 2010 and other issues affecting aviation safety. I thank you for your commitment to aviation safety and for working with the families of flight 3407 victims and myself to pass this legislation, a historic achievement that could not have been accomplished without your hard work.


The Federal Aviation Administration has already implemented some aspects of The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Extension Act of 2010 and is in the process of completing other rulemakings required by that law. Now, more than one year after that bill was signed into law and nearly three years after the crash, it is important that we review and reexamine the causes of the accident and the ensuing safety reforms to make sure we are truly moving towards one level of safety for the entire aviation industry. In addition to examining the efficacy of reforms required by the bill, I ask that you look at other issues affecting aviation safety that were not addressed in the legislation. In recent days, we learned that Colgan Airlines did not share emails with the National Transportation Safety Board related to the lead pilot’s fitness to fly the type of plane involved in the crash. In light of this revelation, I believe it is sensible to also review the investigation process to determine if that process can be improved or the NTSB needed additional authorities to carry out their work.


 Thank you for your attention to this important request. I know you share my concern for aviation safety and I look forward to continuing to work with you to promote safe air travel.