16 October 2009

Some airline safety measures sought by Flight 3407 families win passage in House

Beverly Eckert often said that she was working hard for 9/11 reform measures because her husband, Sean, did not make it home on September 11th, but she wanted to make sure "someone else's 'Sean' gets to go home" because America would be safer. After Beverly was killed in the crash of Flight 3407, family members of those lost, including Beverly's sisters Karen Eckert and Susan Bourque, vowed to find out why the plane fell so suddenly out of the sky, and how future crashes could be prevented. Karen and Susan have been working hard so that someone's "Beverly" lands safely.

That hope came a step closer to reality on Oct. 14, when the House passed by a wide margin HR 3371, a bill aimed at fixing some of the problems that led not only to the crash of Flight 3407, but of other regional airline disasters. The bill includes provisions to improve pilot training, reduce pilot fatigue, and improve pilot training and licensing records.

Beverly's sisters and other Flight 3407 family members were surprised when the announcement came that the bill was coming up for a vote, and a bit worried that some pilot-training provisions had been altered due to pressure from flight schools. According to an article by Jerry Zremski in the Buffalo News:
But the behind-the-scenes addition of that new language — included at the request of a powerful Florida lawmaker whose district includes a prominent flight school — didn't exactly thrill those who lost loved ones in the February crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Clarence Center.

"This is kind of out of the blue," said Susan Bourque, whose sister, Beverly Eckert, was among the 50 people who died in the crash.
When Karen Eckert learned of the impending House vote, she rushed to Washington so that she could witness it along with other Flight 3407 family members. As she sat in the gallery high above the House chamber and watched the votes in favor mount, she let a photo of her sister Beverly dangle over the railing, so that Beverly could see the legislative victory, and so that the lawmakers could see Beverly.