By Philip Newman
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has complained to the Federal Aviation Administration that airlines are trying to water down rules against using fatigued pilots that he championed.
The regulations were put into effect as a result of a crash that left 49 people dead near Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009. The National Transportation Safety Board said its investigation concluded that both pilots in the Colgan Air flight 3407 were probably exhausted.
Schumer told the FAA that the Air Transport Association, which represents most large airlines, recently wrote the chairman of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform.
He said the airline association complained that “much of the regulations we face are unproven, unnecessarily burdensome and adversely impact growth, profitability and job creation in our industry.”
Schumer said “rather than work to water down vital safety regulations, we need the airline industry to come to the table to ensure that we have the greatest possible protections for airplane passengers.”
He contended that better safety standards will reassure passengers and bring more traffic to the airline industry.
“Pilot fatigue remains a widespread problem that must be addressed,” Schumer said. “And we simply cannot afford to scale back rules that will get pilots the rest and training they need to fly.”
The legislation setting rules on maximum work periods to prevent pilot fatigue was written by Schumer and families of the crash victims. It was passed by Congress in August.
The law requires implementation of a rule strengthening training programs for crew members, including pilots, flight attendants, engineers and dispatchers
Schumer said it appeared that the airline association was appealing to the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform to put pressure on the FAA to dilute the regulations.
The crash of the Colgan airplane near Buffalo occurred two years ago this past Saturday, killing 49 people on the plane and one on the ground.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 718-260-4536.