Collins Disappointed in Transportation Secretary Chao’s Comments
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and his Western New York colleagues in Congress today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao expressing disappointment in comments she made attributing the commercial airline pilot shortage to the First Officer Qualification (FOQ) Rule. The families who lost loved ones during the 2009 Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash became vocal advocates for flight safety reform, including the FOQ rule that requires pilots to have 1,500 training hours.
This rule was included in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010. Since this legislation was signed into law, there have been zero airline fatalities due to pilot error.
“I’m disappointed in Secretary Chao's comments today that are in stark contrast to a conversation she has had with me regarding training hour standards,” said Collins. “Instead of talking about eliminating a rule that has kept passengers safe, I’d recommend Secretary Chao talk to the regional airlines and figure out a way they can improve their wages and working conditions to attract and keep pilots.”
In January, Collins spoke with Chao who gave assurance that the pilot training requirements will be kept in place.
In his letter today, Collins noted multiple studies that cite factors other than pilot training requirements as rationale for a pilot shortage. Collins also noted that the FOQ rules have saved countless lives and Congress intended to keep them in place.
Collins urged Chao to look at other initiatives to address the shortage, like one she proposed to help veterans become commercial airline pilots.
Collins added: “For the past nine years we have stood with the families of Flight 3407 and will continue to fight to keep these hours in place. We have been successful, and I don’t intend for that to change.”
To read a copy of the letter, click here.