BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The crash of Flight 3407 prompted a major crusade to make our skies safer with new rules. But the airline industry is pushing back.
Next summer, all newly hired pilots will need 1,500 hours of flight experience. And the airline industry is now claiming the new rules are contributing to a pilot shortage. A Wall Street Journal article reports U.S.s airlines are facing their most serious pilot shortage since the 1960s - and new regulations play a part.
Capt. Chesley Sullenberger said, "This strikes me as a cynical effort on the part of some in the industry to cry wolf and use scare tactics to influence the FAA when they write the final rule on pilot experience to weaken it."
The crash of Continental Flight 3407 in Clarence Center killed 50 people. Family members of the victims had a role in successfully asking Congress to make commercial flights safer, leading to the new regulations now being cited in causing a pilot shortage.
The article also cites other reasons for the shortage, including a number of pilots now reaching the new mandatory retirement age of 65.
Capt. Sullenberger argues it's something the airlines had five years to prepare for. And Karen Eckert, who lost her sister Beverly in Flight 3407, questions the timing of the airline industry's complaints.
"Each time a deadline is coming to them, which means they must change because the airline safety act of 2010 says they must change, they raise a public outcry that 'We can't do this; we're going to go bankrupt.' So I'm not surprised," Eckert said.
She also points out that earlier this year, airline representatives said the new regulation wouldn't be a problem. She and Capt. Sullenberger agree looser regulations won't solve a pilot shortage.
"The solution is, when airlines create working conditions and wages that attract qualified, experienced pilots, they will have enough applicants," Capt. Sullenberger stated.
Eckert added, "They want us to go away. They want people who are promoting safety to go away. But there is a reason there were those changes."
The FAA is already proposing loosening the new experience requirements for some pilots.
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