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Sen. Schumer Says Pilot Safety Regs Being Weakened

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sen. Charles Schumer of New York warned on Sunday that national air safety regulations proposed after a Buffalo airliner crash two years ago are being watered down in Washington.

Schumer told The Associated Press he will call on the Federal Aviation Administration to fight what he says are industry efforts to weaken the August 2010 regulations. The rules are aimed at keeping drowsy or overworked pilots out of cockpits.

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The regulations he sponsored arose from the February 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo in which all 49 people on board died along with one person on the ground. The regulations include more training and actions to make sure pilots are more alert in the air.

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The National Transportation Safety Board reported that both pilots were probably fatigued, although that wasn’t a direct cause of the tragedy.

“Rather than work to water-down vital safety regulations, we need the airline industry to come to the table to ensure we have the greatest possible protections for airplane passengers,” said Schumer, who was releasing letters to the FAA on Sunday. “The airline industry needs to recognize that the safer passengers feel, the more likely they will be to fly. Greater safety standards benefit the industry and most importantly, benefits the American public.”

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There was no immediate comment form the Air Transport Association.

Schumer said the industry claims many of the regulations are unnecessary and burdensome to the point that they would hinder growth and jobs. The regulations require more training for crew, flight attendants, engineers and dispatchers to be in place by October.

Unable to move the FAA to change the regulations, industry has turned its attention to Congress.

Earlier this month, nonscheduled airlines that carry troops and military cargo around the world said the unpredictable nature of their business means their pilots sometimes have to fly longer hours. They say pilots working long duty days often get more time off between flights and typically fly fewer hours per month than airline pilots. However, FAA officials working on the new rules refused to create separate rules for nonscheduled airlines.

Pilots’ unions oppose a bill in Washington that would exempt the nonscheduled airlines.

The two-year anniversary of the Buffalo area crash was Saturday.

Several companies, including Continental Airlines and Colgan Air, the regional carrier contracted to operate the Newark, N.J.-to-Buffalo flight, have been sued over the crash. The companies deny responsibility.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • JR

    Gotta love it, he mnay be right, he may be wrong, but in either case, another politician who is not an expert in the aviation field or a pilot trying to make regulations on a subject he knows NOTHING about!

  • Unknown

    I talked to Chuck Colgan a few months ago over the phone. During our conversation he had said,”I’ve made a few mistakes in my life”‘ while laughing under his breath, I thought it was pretty disturbing.

  • Pilot70

    On another note, pilot pay has to change at these smaller airlines. Pilots spend tens of thousands of dollars to get the required flight training and then spend years flight instructing and doing other dangerous low paying flying jobs to gain enouigh hours to work for the airlines. Then, the airlines pay them $20K a year. Nobody can live where most pilot bases are n this ludicrous pay, hence, the far commutes. Being a pilot is not what is used to be years ago., low pay and not so glamourous any longer.

  • Pilot70

    Look at the accident rate of US carriers compared to other countries, statistics says it all. While there is always room for improvement, the USA still has the safest system.

  • Larry Schwarz

    Safety has to be the number one concern,what happened on that Colgan air flight was tragic and unneccessary.I do however happen to know some Delta pilots.I know they would never jeapordize safety.I’ve had flights delayed on me and some cancelled due to a safety issue with the aircraft.Sure an inconvienience to passengers,but better to get there late then to not get there at all.Delta has always accomodated passengers when this happens like trying to reroute on other flights or Airlines,meal vouchers,even offers of hotels to go the next day,and if it’s their home city pay for their transportation home and back to the airport the next day.They also add miles for the inconvienience.However they do not do this if it’s weather related.Only if it’s mechanical as it’s then considered the airlines fault.

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