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Family Support Group of Flight 3407 Condemns Pilot Standard Changes

As Pilot Crunch Worsens, Victims of Lax Airmanship Speak Out

The Families of Continental Flight 3407 group has heavily criticized the upcoming elimination of Essential Air Service routes and murmurs of lowering experience requirements for airline pilots. 

The group has demanded that the Biden admin and Congress "hold the line on these guidelines in the interest of the safety of the traveling public, specifically in terms of our nation's regional carriers," paying mind to the distinctive conditions surrounding regional service. Smaller carriers have complained of pilot hiring and retention as qualified aviators continue to remain sparse in the industry. 

The crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 spurred on a number of changes in the industry, from duty time and rest period limitations to logging of training events across cariers. The most oft cited change, however was the requirement for all Part 121 pilots to hold an ATP license or appropriate experience. The change effectively required all carriers to hire pilots with the requisite 1,500 hours of flight time needed to hold an ATP certificate. The experience bar was raised in 2013, in a time with a healthy pilot base and plenty of candidates to be found. Almost 10 years on, however, the industry is beginning to run out the clock on its collection of qualified pilots, as those demographics that carry the most pilots approach retirement. The one-two punch of a bleak post-9/11 airline industry and the vastly increased expense of acquiring flight time served to dissuade many from entering the field or pursue other careers when unable to find employment as a low-time pilot, and regional carriers are starting to sweat. Executives in recent months have stood before congress and bemoaned the difficulty in finding enough qualified (and affordable) pilots to maintain current routes, with the shortage becoming so acute that carriers have had to trim less popular city pairs and scale back service.

The Families' group points to the changes as proof positive that they have been successful in enhancing the level of safety among air carriers. One member described the last decade as "the safest era of air travel for US carriers and it's not even close", saying that "There has not been a fatal crash on a US carrier in over 13 years since Flight 3407, and prior to that, we had never even made it 3 years without such a crash.Clearly the increased pilot experience standards and the other initiatives that were a part of this legislation are working, and this is a great credit to the teamwork of FAA, Congress, and the airlines and pilot associations. To do an about face and do anything that would roll back or limit these safety advances in any way would be totally irresponsible of Congress or the Administration." 



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