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Senators, Congressmen Fought Alongside 3407 Families Since Colgan Air Flight 3407 Disaster in February 2009 To Enact Safeguards And Prevent Future Tragedies

New Database Would Enable Airlines To Access Pilot Training History Before Hiring, Ensuring More Qualified and Capable Pilots

Federal Reps: Ceaseless Advocacy By 3407 Families Will Make For Safer Skies

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins, and U.S. Congressman Tom Reed today announced that, following twelve years of activism by the families of the victims of Colgan Air Flight 3407, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has finalized the rule to establish a long-awaited pilot record database. This decision comes after years of delay, has long been a focal point in the push for safer skies, and has been a central component of the families’ advocacy.

Implementation of the final rule and sign-off from OMB means the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can, at long last, begin its final approval process. The final rule will be published by June 11, 2021. Once the final approvals are granted, the database can be created in compliance with the new rules, and air carriers must begin entering pilot records within one year of the rule’s publication. By June 11, 2024, all air carriers must have entered all relevant historical pilot records into the database. This database will allow airlines to access the complete pilot training records of anyone who wishes to become a commercial airline pilot, ensuring only the most experienced and competent pilots are tasked with ferrying the public and safeguarding the skies.

Following the crash of Flight 3407 on February 12, 2009 in Clarence Center, the family and friends of the fifty people who lost their lives undertook a herculean effort to reform the airline industry. Their efforts culminated in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act in 2010, which established disclosure requirements for regional carriers, new training requirements for pilots and, amongst other things, the creation of the new pilot record database. However, bureaucratic foot-dragging and logistical problems plagued the creation of the database and it has been in the beta-test phase since 2017.

“Finally,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer.  “Twelve years of relentless advocacy by the 3407 families has yielded so many reforms, like this vital pilot database, that have made our skies safer. They faced immeasurable tragedy and instead of cursing the darkness, they emerged as resilient and forceful advocates for safer skies to honor the memories of their loved ones. We’ll never be able to truly know the number of lives their fortitude has managed to save, and we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

“After more than a decade of advocacy on behalf of the families of those lost in the tragic Flight 3407 crash, this rule guarantees that the voices of the families have not only been heard, but responded to,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Time and time again the FAA has failed to enact essential safety requirements that keep all of us safe. This is a welcome change that will finally make air travel safer for all of us.”

“This has been a long, hard fight led by the Families of Flight 3407,” said Congressman Higgins.  “As we reach the finish line on what has been a marathon effort to tackle the painful lessons we learned following the horrific crash in 2009, everyone wins as a result of the multiple changes made to improve transparency and aviation safety.”

“We will always remember the tragedy that took the lives of so many in the crash of Flight 3407,” said Congressman Reed. “Thanks to the families of Flight 3407 and their tireless advocacy, critical aviation reforms like a pilot database are at long-last being enacted. These new measures will help improve flight safety and prevent future tragedies. We will continue to stand with the families of Flight 3407 in their courageous effort to advance meaningful change.”

"Having personally spent 2 years working with the team at the FAA on this database project, this is very welcome news to my wife MaryEllen and me, as well as to our entire family," stated Ken Mellett of McLean, Virginia, a Canisius College graduate who lost his son Coleman, a member of the Chuck Mangione Band, in the crash.  "What an inspiration it has been to be a part of this incredible Flight 3407 family group.  With just a few more I's to be dotted and T's to be crossed, not only will this critical safety initiative be fully operational, but more importantly, the 2010 safety law that we worked so hard for will finally be fully implemented.  This would not have been possible without the steadfast support of the entire Western New York congressional delegation, and we cannot say thank you enough.  We can't bring Coleman back, but the incredible safety record that has been achieved since the tragedy of Flight 3407 is an amazing tribute to him and everyone else who was lost that night."

Fifty people lost their lives on Colgan Air Flight 3407 from Newark, including one person on the ground when the plane crashed into a residential neighborhood outside the Buffalo Niagara International Airport on February 12, 2009. A follow-up investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that the pilot had failed several prior tests and may not have been adequately trained, spurring the creation of the new pilot record database.