WASHINGTON D.C. (WIVB) — Family members of Flight 3407 victims were back in Washington D.C. on Monday to be honored by federal officials.

The Federal Aviation Administration will be unveiling a plaque honoring the work those families have done since 2009 to make air travel safer.

The program for the event honoring 3407 families. (Reshad Hudson/Nexstar)

John Kausner, the father of crash victim Elly Kausner, said “The FAA recognizes that that has been effective and they decided to recognize the families by putting a plaque in their hallway.”

Elly Kausner was one of 50 people who died on February 12, 2009 when a plane crashed into a Clarence Center home. Since that time, family members of those victims have fought for stricter air regulations, including a pilot training requirement of 1,500 hours of flight time.

As the FAA honors that work on Monday, families also plan to make it a working day, meeting with senators and members of Congress over the course of the day. One of the things on their agenda will be a request from Regional Airline Republic Airways.

“It’s arrogant, at least,” Kausner said.

Republic is requesting an exception that, according to their paperwork, would allow selected civilian pilots who complete their restricted air transport pilot program to, “apply… for an airline transport pilot certificate
concurrently with a multiengine airplane type rating with a minimum of 750 hours of total flight time as a pilot.”

A spokesperson for Republic insists they’re not proposing overturning the 1,500-hour rule or weakening safety. “To the contrary,” she said, “we are proposing a more intensive, mission-specific training pathway similar to what is permitted for military pilots under current law.

“Safety is and will always be the top priority for Republic Airways — it is our brand, our business — and with our state-of-the-art training academy we are proposing a pathway supported by data gathered over the course of four years to produce higher performing pilots while reducing significant economic barriers to enable more diversity in our cockpits.”

“When you’re training a military pilot, he’s 24/7 on base. He’s there with military discipline and military activity. When you’re training a airline pilot, they might put in a 8 hour day. But then they go to the outback and have dinner and go home and sleep in their bed and sleep. That training and the atmosphere is entirely different,” Kausner responded.

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Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.