National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman testified in the U.S. Senate today about the status of aviation safety a year after the crash of Continental Flight 3407 near Buffalo, New York on February 12, 2009. The flight was operated by Colgan Air. The crash resulted in 50 fatalities, including all of the passengers, the flight crew, and one person on the ground.
The NTSB issued its final report on the investigation of the accident following a public board meeting on February 2. Chairman Hersman provided a summary of the investigation that led to the Board's final report and a determination that the probable cause of the accident was the captain's inappropriate response to an aerodynamic stall from which the airplane did not recover.
At the hearing before the Subcommittee on Aviation of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Hersman noted that the Safety Board's final report makes 25 new recommendations to the FAA and reiterates 3 previously issued recommendations. The recommendations cover a wide range of safety issues that were factors in this accident, including pilot training and fatigue. Just last week, the NTSB updated its 2010 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Issues to better emphasize these 2 safety concerns, Hersman noted.
"If we are serious about aviation safety, we must establish a system that minimizes pilot fatigue and ensures that flight crews report to work rested and fit for duty," said Chairman Hersman. "We must also have a system in which we are steadfastly confident that all of our commercial pilots are proficient and well-trained."