A little more than a year after 50 people died in a deadly crash over Buffalo, New York, Congress has responded by approving a wide-sweeping series of aviation safety laws on Friday.
The measures were passed without debate in both the House and the Senate, and await President Obama’s signature.
The safety measures follow an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in May that discovered that panicky pilots and poor pilot training caused the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 near Buffalo-Niagara International Airport.
All 49 people onboard the flight and one man in a house on the ground were killed.
According to the report, pilots badly mishandled cockpit warnings, causing them to lose control of the aircraft. The NTSB found that the plane’s pilots were not adequately trained to react to a warning that the plane was going too slow. They also did not have the training to recover the plane after losing control.
The actions of the pilots led to further investigations into Colgan Air, the regional carrier that operated the flight for Continental Airlines. The NTSB found that Colgan allowed pilots with questionable qualifications to fly passengers and that airline regulators had failed to act on years of safety recommendations.
The safety measures passed today hope to remedy these issues by forcing airlines to hire more experienced pilots. Airlines would also be required to do background checks on pilots’ previous employment and training before hiring.
And in a move that should be popular among pilot groups, the new laws would dramatically overhaul the rules governing pilot work schedules to prevent fatigue. Some other highlights of the new law include:
- Pushing the FAA to strengthen pilot training programs requirements at airlines;
- Requiring first officers to have the same amount of flight experience as captains, bringing the total hours up from 250 hours to 1,500 hours;
- Requiring airline ticket selling websites to disclose if a regional carrier is being used by a major airline partner.
Of the six fatal airline accidents in the U.S. that have occurred since 2001, all six crashes involved regional carriers. Regional carriers now account for more than half of all domestic flights.
By Adriana Padilla for PeterGreenberg.com.
Related Links on PeterGreenberg.com:
- CBS Evening News Special Report: Aviation Safety in America
- Aviation Safety in America & the Crash of Flight 3407
- Buffalo Crash Probe Raises Training, Safety Questions About Regional Flights
- Greg Feith, Former NTSB Investigator, Weighs In on Buffalo Crash
- FAA Fatigue Rules, Flight 3407, Air France, Swine Flu and Magic Italy
- Bill Boosts Pilot Training Requirements, But Will It Make Skies Safer?
- Former NTSB Top Brass Discusses Buffalo Crash Investigation