Thursday, 11 March 2010

Aviation Safety Bill in Limbo after Block by Tennessee Senator


Families of some of the victims of a Continental flight that crashed near Buffalo, New York last year are pushing for an aviation safety bill that remains in deadlock because of a Tennessee senator.

Families of Connection Flight 3407 are in Washington to lobby for the bill which has a great deal of support from California plane crash lawyers. The amendment would increase the number of hours that copilots must have flown before they can be hired for a job. However, the bill is currently in a state of limbo because a senator from Tennessee is blocking its passage. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee says he will block the bill unless a provision related to FedEx is removed from its content.

According to the provision, drivers of FedEx would be allowed to organize on the local level. Right now, these drivers re covered by the Railway Labor Act which allows them to organize on the national level only. According to FedEx, this provision would place it at a disadvantage compared to rival UPS. The Memphis-based company is stubbornly opposing the measure, and it has plenty of support in the form of its state senator. The bill remains blocked as Sen. Corker remains adamant about the FedEx provision being removed.

Not surprisingly, the families of the victims of 3407, which crashed on February 12, 2009, are severely critical of the senator's actions. A group of them, who call themselves the Families of Connection Flight 3407 are lobbying for the amendment to be passed in the nation’s capital. The amendment was proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer D-New York, would do much to refine pilot hiring practices, and filter out inexperienced pilots.

The connection flight went down in a Buffalo neighborhood, killing all 49 on board and one person on the ground. The crash focused national attention on the role of pilots and how these contribute to a crash. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board blamed pre-flight errors by the crew for the crash. Crew fatigue was one major issue that has arisen since the Continental flight went down. Both the pilot and copilot, it was found later, had spent the days prior to the flight with very little sleep.

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