Remembering Colgan Air Flight 3407

On the night of Feb. 12, 2009, Colgan Air Flight 3407, operating as a Continental Connection flight, crashed on approach to Buffalo, N.Y. Fifty people were fatally injured that night, including all four crewmembers, the 45 passengers, and one individual on the ground.

The crash was the last in a series of four high-profile fatal airline accidents over a six-year timeframe in the United States, and the ensuing investigation introduced serious questions regarding numerous safety issues within the airline industry. As a result, several notable safety advancements were enacted in the wake of the Colgan crash, including an increase in pilot training, qualifications, and experience requirements.

Another important outcome was a congressional mandate that the FAA develop and implement new science-based flight, duty, and rest regulations. ALPA worked tirelessly to ensure that line pilots from every segment of the industry were included in these important provisions, but when the new fatigue rules were implemented in 2011, a flawed cost-benefit analysis of the regulations excluded cargo pilots. Despite this “cargo carveout,” there is no scientific basis for the separate pilot duty and rest rules based on the type of operations they conduct. Cargo pilots fly the same routes, in the same airspace, and into the same airports as pilots of passenger airlines, and inconsistencies in regulations put the traveling public at risk.

To correct this situation, at the end of 2019 Congress introduced the Safe Skies Act, which would apply the same flight, duty, and rest rules to cargo flights as commercial passenger flights to prevent the dangers posed by fatigued pilots. On the day it was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, ALPA stood shoulder to shoulder with cargo pilots from across the industry as a united force with one voice in support of the bill.

From the night of the accident through the law’s passage and continuing to this day, ALPA has been at the forefront fighting to ensure that the lessons learned from Colgan Flight 3407 are never forgotten. Please help ALPA promote One Level of Safety for all airline pilots and stress the importance of the Safe Skies Act to your Member of Congress. Don’t delay; ask them to cosponsor S. 826/H.R. 5170, the Safe Skies Act.

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