Pilot Training Again Questioned In Clarence Center Crash

by Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC on June 18, 2010

in Buffalo Wrongful Death Issues

The crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Clarence Center last year resulted in the wrongful death of 50 individuals and impacted the lives of families throughout the Buffalo area.  This week, during an appearance before the House Aviation subcommittee regarding the proposed merger between Continental and United Airlines, the CEO of Continental, Jeffery A. Smisek, instead found himself being questioned about Continental Airlines role in the crash.

In the sixteen months since the crash, it has emerged that the pilots of the plane, who were employees of Colgan Air, a smaller, regional airline hired by Continental to handle the flights, had not been fully trained in the use of the plane’s stall-recovery system.  When asked about this fact, Mr. Smisek replied that Continental was not aware of the training deficiency and “That’s the responsibility of the FAA.”

Lawmakers were not satisfied with this response, leading to additional questioning regarding Continental’s commitment to safety and the monitoring of subcarriers that it hires.  Continental’s CEO had never previously been questioned regarding his company’s conduct relating to the crash. 

The airline crash has already resulted in the introduction of new legislation that should result in additional training requirements for airline pilots.  It remains to be seen what impact, if any, CEO Smisek’s comments will have on pending lawsuits brought on behalf of the families of those who died in the crash.

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