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Today, on the 12th anniversary of the fatal crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Clarence, New York that prematurely took the lives of 50, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, in a direct call to Secretary Buttigieg and letter, continued his fight to finalize the proposed rule and establish a central pilot database, make the skies safer, and giving the families long-awaited comfort in their mission to make air travel safer for passengers and aviation professionals alike.

Schumer’s call and letter come on the heels of his meeting with Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in December when he asked the Secretary, prior to his confirmation, to commit to prioritizing the rule and finally establish the database. In 2019, on the 10-year anniversary of the crash, Senator Schumer urged then-DOT Secretary Elaine Chao to end the bureaucratic foot-dragging and deliver the database for the families of the victims. In 2017, which was originally when the pilot record database was supposed to be established by under the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, the senator secured provisions in the Senate FAA reauthorization bill to protect 3407-inspired aviation safeguards, including the database, after meeting with the families of the victims. The senator’s success in defending those provisions was kicked off by a visit to Erie County, where alongside several with the families of the victims of flight 3407 and with ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ pilot and aviation safety expert Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, Schumer launched his push to protect the 3407-inspired aviation safeguards, including the database. Schumer also hosted press conferences in Washington D.C. to pressure Congress to uphold the safeguards in 2016 and 2015. In 2011, the year following the crash, Schumer invited flight 3407 family member Karen Eckert to attend the State of the Union has his guest, and called on the FAA to quickly finalize and implement regulates drafted in the wake of the crash, including the database, which has still not been launched.

Schumer followed up today’s call with the letter found below:

Dear Secretary Buttigieg:

Today marks the twelve year anniversary of one of the darkest days in Western New York’s history. The fatal crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Clarence, New York prematurely took 50 precious lives. Now, after more than a decade of fierce and tireless activism by the families of their loved ones, I ask you to prioritize the completion of the rulemaking required by P.L. 111-216, and finally establish a pilot record database.

This database would not just make for safer skies, but it would ensure the memories of the fifty victims live on — not just in the hearts of those that love them — but in impactful and lifesaving ways.

As I mentioned in our December meeting prior to your confirmation, it is of the utmost importance that, as you assume your new role as secretary, you prioritize the finalization of the pilot record database with all due speed. Qualified pilots, well-trained, experienced pilots are the only ones who should be tasked with ferrying the general public. This database is critical to closing a dangerous loophole and would give airlines a unified electronic resource of shared information such as background information, training experience, and qualifications of each pilot during the hiring process.

For the past twelve years, I have been honored to work alongside the families of the victims as they have bravely faced the unimaginable darkness of that tragic day not just with strength, but with unmatched perseverance and determination to ensure no other families will face the heartbreak they have. I have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with them, relentlessly pushing for issuance of a final rule. Since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published the proposed rule on March 20, 2020, none has come. I strongly urge you to immediately direct the FAA to finalize the rule, establish the database, make the skies safer, and give these families some long-awaited comfort in their mission to make air travel safer for passengers and aviation professionals alike.