The National Transportation Safety Board has concluded its investigation into the Continental Connection (Colgan) Flight 3407 disaster and has issued very important safety recommendations, which if acted upon by Colgan, the other regional airlines and Federal Aviation Administration will greatly improve aviation safety. If the regional airline industry and the FAA do not act and act quickly another regional airplane will crash because other poorly selected and trained pilots will make the same or similar terrible mistakes as Flight 3407′s pilots.
Thus far, neither the Federal Aviation Administration nor the regional airline industry has taken the steps necessary to prevent the next disaster. In January, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a document entitled “Answering the Call to Action on Airline Safety and Pilot Training,” but the document is clearly just an attempt to blunt criticism of its half-hearted response to the Flight 3407 tragedy. The FAA has engaged in a lot of talk, but very little action. The same is true for the industry, much of which has committed to taking steps to improve pilot training and supervision, but thus far has largely not acted.
Colgan is a prime example of industry inaction. After “learning” that neither of Flight 3407 pilots had been fit for duty since they had gotten what little sleep they received the night before the flight in crew rooms, Colgan instituted a no questions
asked fatigue policy that would not punish pilots for canceling flights because they were fatigued. Colgan then cancelled the new policy because its managers believed pilots were abusing the policy. Colgan also promised the National Transportation Safety Board that it would institute a Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) program, but as we approach the one year anniversary of the Flight 3407 disaster, its FOQA program is not operational.
We support the Flight 3407 families’ fight for change. Most regional airlines say that “safety is paramount” or that “safety is job one” — it’s time that these sayings are not mere