ALPA Honors Colgan Air Flight 3407 Victims

By Corey Kuhn, Contributing Writer
Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA’s president, and a member of the Flight 3407 families place a wreath at the Colgan Flight 3407 memorial site in Clarence Center, N.Y.

To commemorate the 14th anniversary of the Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash, Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA’s president, along with ALPA pilots and staff, visited Buffalo, N.Y., to honor the victims and to continue the collective advocacy to protect the safety of the U.S. air transportation system. The visit, which began with a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial site in Clarence Center, N.Y., was followed by remarks from representatives from the families of Flight 3407, local first responders, and ALPA—all underscoring the importance of remembering this tragedy and using it to push for continued improvements in aviation safety.

“Together, each person here today—and countless others—has contributed to ensuring those we lost in the Flight 3407 accident leave a legacy of saving lives in the air and on the ground—a legacy of making sure our country sets an example for the world,” said Ambrosi.

Colgan Flight 3407, which crashed on Feb. 12, 2009, marked a turning point in aviation safety as the families and stakeholders worked tirelessly to prevent a similar accident from occurring and helped pass the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010. The new standards raised the bar for U.S. aviation, improving pilot qualification, experience, and training requirements; mandating safety management systems with enhanced voluntary safety reporting programs; requiring pilot training for high-altitude operations, flight in adverse weather, and stall prevention and recovery; and implementing science-based flight, duty, and rest requirements.

After the reciting of names of those who lost their lives, Karen Eckert, who lost her sister in the accident and has advocated for the Flight 3407 families, spoke. “What we as the families of Flight 3407 did in their name was to fight for aviation safety improvements so that no other lives would ever be lost to a completely preventable crash,” she remarked. “Congress listened and unanimously passed the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010. As a testament to this, there hasn’t been a fatal crash on a U.S. commercial passenger carrier in these last 14 years. That’s the safest period in our nation’s history by over a decade. It’s both remarkable and sad that we’re still having to go and fight in Washington nearly 14 years later.”

Ambrosi, left, flanked by Capt. John Dubill (Delta), addresses attendees of the Colgan remembrance ceremony held at Clarence Center.

This year’s commemoration of the crash comes at a particularly pivotal time for the aviation industry. As Congress once again begins work on the reauthorization of FAA, ALPA remains steadfast in ensuring that the safety regulations enacted in the wake of this accident and that have contributed to the industry’s extraordinary safety record aren’t eroded.

“Because of first officer qualification and training requirements and other improvements, U.S. airline passengers are dramatically safer today. Our communities are safer. And our country is safer,” Ambrosi observed. “We’ve established the gold standard in aviation safety—and we’ll never accept anything less. I pledge to you on this solemn day that the Air Line Pilots Association will work to make certain that the next FAA reauthorization protects and builds on this legacy. We’ll also do everything we can to ensure that this country doesn’t go backward.”

Despite the many safety advancements that have been enacted, some industry stakeholders are actively lobbying Congress and the FAA to weaken these vital rules purely for financial gain. However, pilots, the flying public, and the families of the Colgan Flight 3407 victims continue to vehemently oppose any weakening of these rules.

As the aviation industry continues to face new challenges and risks, ALPA remains at the forefront advocating for safety and working to improve regulations and standards. The 14th anniversary of the Flight 3407 crash is a solemn reminder of the importance of this work and of the need to never forget the lessons learned from this tragedy.

“There are no shortcuts to safety. I want to thank Capt. Ambrosi and the Air Line Pilots Association for coming to Clarence to remember and honor our loved ones. I want to thank them for their professionalism and for their staunch support of these higher aviation safety standards. They’re in the cockpit every day flying each one of us safely to our destinations,” Eckert concluded.

A stone located at the Flight 3407 memorial honors the victims who lost their lives 14 years ago in this tragic accident.

This article was originally published in the March 2023 issue of Air Line Pilot.

Read the latest Air Line Pilot (PDF)