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Editorial: Trump must support Flight 3407 families

While taking undeserved credit for safe skies, President Trump should be ready to stand behind the Families of Continental Flight 3407 in their push to get cooperation throughout the airline industry on critical safety regulations.

The airline industry, with the help of complicit legislators, have vigorously pushed back on the rules designed to ensure safety for passengers in the air and people on the ground.
So when the president takes to Twitter and points out that in his first year as president there have been no commercial aviation fatalities, he should add a line endorsing hard-fought new rules.

That includes the newly required 1,500 hours flight time for pilots.

The law requires co-pilots and pilots to have 1,500 hours of flight experience and establishes new pilot training and safety requirements. Their purpose is to prevent the type of pilot error that caused the February 2009 plane crash that took 50 lives in Clarence Center, including one on the ground.

The airline industry, with Sen. John R. Thune, R-S.D., as its lackey, claims that the increased flight time is onerous and causing a pilot shortage. To the families who worked so hard, despite their own pain, it’s an excuse. They’re right. Few passengers would knowingly and willingly board an aircraft piloted by someone with fewer hours and experience.

Maintaining the rule has been an uphill battle. In September, a Federal Aviation Administration advisory committee recommended changing or repealing the 1,500-hour rule based on a cost-benefit argument. Add to that the comment by Bruce Landsberg, a Trump appointee to the National Transportation Safety Board, that the pilot requirement is “a non-issue.”

As the family members accurately believe, this law – championed by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. – in fact led to the unprecedented safe skies enjoyed by passengers and those on the ground. And that includes last year, for which Trump is trying to assume credit. It is a remarkable boast. Even for him.

Let’s just hope that the tweet by Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, a strong Trump supporter and Erie County Executive at the time of the crash, holds sway. It gave the impression that the president is on the right side of the argument and is committed to keeping the 1,500-hour rule.

Collins and anyone else who remembers that awful night when the plane crashed recalls the up-close images of death and destruction. And they know now that it could have been avoided.

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