political issues surrounding a crash investigation continue
unabated.... and in the case of the tragic Continental Connection
3407 accident, the political commenting and interference is
reaching a fever pitch. While anti-aviation lawmakers like NY's
Charles Schumer (D-New York) have all but concluded the causes of
the crash and placed blame on some of this favorite scapegoats (and
grabbed the obligatory headlines and soundbites), others are being
slightly more circumspect, though still voicing concerns -- long
before the NTSB can even hope to publish a Probable Cause.
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) recently wrote the
Acting Chairman of the NTSB, Mark Rosenker, to keep the deceased
pilots from shouldering all the blame for what she suspects may be
a systemic issue.
Gillibrand implored Rosenker to 'responsibly assess where the
blame should truly lie. On behalf of the families who lost loved
ones in this tragedy and all Americans who depend on safe air
travel, I urge you not to turn the pilots of Flight 3407 into
Gillibrand notes that, "Over the course of the last week, we
have heard shocking testimony about the grave errors that were made
by the pilots of Continental Flight 3407. I am outraged to learn
that the horrible crash could have been prevented had mistakes not
The Senator continues, "While it appears that the pilots of this
aircraft committed grave errors, their conduct seems to be an
indictment of the aviation system as a whole. These pilots are the
product of an aviation system where training, salaries, and
oversight are severely flawed. We all heard how the co-pilot only
made $16,000 a year, which obviously does not even cover the cost
of living for a Newark-based crew member. Crew members live so far
away and are not given proper accommodations before their flights,
leaving them exhausted and ill-equipped to do their job.
Furthermore, these pilots did not have enough training for
typical winter conditions in the northeast. In addition, the
witness from the human resources department could not answer simple
questions about requirements and qualifications for pilots.
Failing to hold the system accountable would be a further
injustice to these families and all consumers across the country.
The Federal Airline Administration must accept some of the
responsibility for the tragedy in Buffalo, or these systemic risks
and failures will continue.
Justice must be served for the men and women who lost their
lives in the horrible accident of Flight 3407, and that does not
mean resting all the blame on the pilots.
These pilots made grave errors but were also a product of an
industry that is not adequately training or caring for their
Dear Senator Gillibrand,
Thank you for your letter earlier this afternoon. We appreciate
your thoughts and interest in our investigation. As you noted, we
just concluded a three-day public hearing on the circumstances
surrounding the tragic crash of Continental Connection flight 3407,
operated by Colgan Airways, occurring on February 12, 2009. I can
assure you, as I assured the many family members this week who
attended the hearing, that the National Transportation Safety Board
will consider every factor before rendering a probable cause of the
accident. We pride ourselves in providing an objective
comprehensive investigation of such transportation accidents.
We intend to complete our investigation in as timely a fashion
as possible. As you know, our primary products are safety
recommendations aimed at preventing similar accidents from
occurring again. Such recommendations can be issued at any time
during the course of an investigation.
I will be happy to keep you apprised of developments in this
investigation, and will appreciate your supportive efforts as we
strive to improve aviation safety in this country.