Washington: Congress on Friday approved
far-reaching US aviation safety legislation that was developed
in response to a deadly commuter airline crash in western New
York state last year.
The Senate approved the measure without debate, following
similar action by the House yesterday night. That sends it to
President Barack Obama for his signature.
The safety measures are an attempt to force airlines to
hire more experienced pilots, investigate pilots` previous
employment more thoroughly and train them better.
The legislation requires a major overhaul of rules
governing pilot work schedules to prevent fatigue.
The impetus for the safety measures was the crash of
Continental Connection Flight 3407 near Buffalo-Niagara
International Airport on Feb 12, 2009. All 49 people aboard
and one man in a house were killed.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigation
faulted actions by the flight`s pilots and deficiencies in
pilot hiring and training by Colgan Air, the regional carrier
that operated the flight for Continental Airlines.
All of the past six fatal airline accidents in the US
involved regional carriers. Pilot performance was a
contributing factor in four of those cases.
Major airlines are increasingly outsourcing short-haul
flights to regional carriers, which now account for more than
half of all domestic flights.
As they prepared to pass the bill, House lawmakers
praised the friends and family members of the victims of
Flight 3407. They have lobbied relentlessly over the past 17
months for the safety measures.