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Collins urges Department of Transportation to keep pilot training requirements in place


Congressmen Chris Collins (NY-27) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in support of maintaining the minimum first officer training and qualification regulations for airline pilots included in Part 121 of airline operations. This Congressional support comes as America is currently enjoying the safest period of airline travel in history after regulations were established in the aftermath of a series of fatal airline crashes between 2004 and 2009. These crashes were determined by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to be caused in part by inadequate pilot training and qualifications standards.

As a result of a number of airline tragedies, including the 2009 Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash occurring in Clarence, NY, new regulations were put in place requiring a substantial increase in pilot training. These new regulations came after families who lost loved ones as a result of the Flight 3407 crash became vocal advocates in the fight for flight safety reform. Their efforts won the passage of a number of new measures toward the goal of providing one level of safety for the flying public. As a result of these changes, there has not been a fatal regional airline crash in more than seven years.

"I applaud the tireless efforts of the families that lost loved ones on Flight 3407. They are a large reason why air travel has been the safest it has been in decades," said Collins. "I would be gravely concerned if their efforts are overturned because of regional airlines trying to extend their profits. The federal government and the airlines have a responsibility to keep Americans safe in the skies. It is our hope Secretary Chao joins in our efforts to save the current pilot training standards which have proven so effective."

"In recent years, since the current training regulations have been in place, the number of tragedies in the skies across the country has decreased," said Loebsack. "It is apparent that these training qualifications exist for good reason, and that is to ensure the safety of airline passengers across the United States. I am proud to work with Congressman Collins and 67 other members to ensure that no effort is made to undermine the safety of our skies."

In total, the letter to Secretary Chao was signed by 69 Members of Congress in anticipation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill's expiration in September of 2017. Regional airlines have led a push to remove the training requirements due to their claim of pilot shortage. They are proposing to replace time spent training in the cockpit with classroom hours which many would consider a terrible mistake. A copy of the letter can be found here.

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