3407 Families, Collins Furious at FAA Over "Broken Promise"

6:49 PM, Feb 18, 2013   |    comments
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CLARENCE, N.Y. - Families of the victims of Flight 3407 have more reason for outrage when it comes to the government's response to the crash. It appears the Federal Aviation Administration may have again failed to hold the airlines to a safety measure it had initially promised to take.

The families learned of the potential problem five days after marking a tearful, fourth anniversary of the crash, which many of them spent in Washington appealing for more airline safety.

"It's almost like a slap in the face, that 51 lives weren't enough," said Jennifer West, who lost her husband Ernie in the crash.

After the crash, the FAA announced a plan that included a promise to review the contracts between big airlines and their smaller regional carriers, like the one that crashed in Clarence, to make sure those smaller carriers were aware of and implementing the same safety standards of the big airlines.

But according to a watchdog for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the FAA never followed through, and only one of the large airlines is doing it on its own.

"We do not have one level of safety," West said. "The major airlines -- they seem like they don't care to be up to the same standard as regional. And that's where it all goes wrong because you can get into a plane tomorrow and crash because of this."

U.S. Representative Chris Collins is furious with the FAA, accusing it of dragging its feet on airline safety because of the cost to the carriers.

"When it comes to the loss of 50 lives needlessly, cost should not be part of the equation," Collins said Sunday. "I'm a small government guy, but there is a role for government and, no, they should not be getting away with this."

Collins expects U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer to use confirmation hearings for the President's next Transportation Secretary to force the FAA to act quickly on new safety measures.

"We are not going away," West promised. "And, if the[se reforms] are not met, Schumer, Collins, [all of] us, we will all be down there again. And if I have to spend another anniversary in DC fighting for what should be a given, there is going to be a lot of upset people."

In response, the attorney to the Department of Transportation told the Associated Press that the FAA "believes all carriers meet an appropriate level of safety," regardless of whether the big airlines share their safety practices and information with the regional carriers.

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