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FAA has mastered the art of delaying implementation of pilot training rules

The Federal Aviation Administration is always full of excuses. This time, the agency is blaming the fact that it missed its self-imposed deadline for implementing new pilot training rules on the government shutdown.

The FAA has been nothing if not consistent in its delays in creating those rules, or anything else that would displease the airline industry.

Continental Connection Flight 3407, operated by the now-defunct Colgan Air, crashed nearly five years ago in Clarence Center, killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground.

The Families of Continental Flight 3407 embarked on the herculean task of working to institute new rules calling for more-comprehensive pilot training. Those rules were supposed to be issued this month. But they won’t be. This time the government shutdown is to blame.

The rules are years overdue, lending an odor of insincerity to this latest excuse. It simply plays into the pattern of delays that have become the hallmark of the agency as it continues to pander to the airline industry.

That delay is an incredible stance to take, considering that aviation safety officials blamed the crash on pilot error, in part because the pilot lacked vital training.

Scott Maurer, whose daughter, Lorin, was killed in the crash, summed it up in lamenting the FAA’s unconscionable use of the government shutdown to explain this latest delay: “… and we are sure that the airlines and their lobbyists are celebrating this reprieve somewhere on K Street.”

Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, called the latest delay inexcusable, but he voted for budget plans pushed by the tea party that led to the government shutdown.

The FAA should take the suggestion of the families and set a new deadline of Nov. 6, which is 16 workdays past the Oct. 16 end of the shutdown. Here’s another suggestion: stop the excuses and get to work.

Another disappointing delay for some of the Families of Flight 3407 is the recently announced postponement in the start of the trial stemming from the crash.

Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny has moved the trial from March to May for remaining federal lawsuits. The judge was convinced that Pinnacle and Continental airlines need more time to prepare.

Flight 3407 was operated by Colgan Air, then part of Pinnacle Airlines, and flying under the continental Connection banner. Continental, which has since merged with United Airlines, contracted with Colgan to operate the flight.

Skretny’s patience, and ours, is running out. He told airline attorneys: “This is it.”