Families encourage overhaul of pilot training

WASHINGTON – Prodded by the families of people killed in a regional airline crash, federal officials issued an extensive overhaul of training requirements for pilots Tuesday.

One of the most important changes requires airlines to provide better training on how to prevent and recover from an aerodynamic stall, in which a plane slows to the point that it loses lift. That was what happened to Continental Express Flight 3407, which crashed on approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport in western New York on Feb. 12, 2009, killing all 49 people aboard and a man on the ground.

The crash victims’ families have campaigned relentlessly for nearly five years for changes in federal regulations to address safety issues raised by the accident, including better pilot training. The families won a major victory in 2010 when they persuaded Congress to pass a sweeping aviation safety law. Since then, they’ve kept pressure on the Federal Aviation Administration to follow through on key safety provisions. They’ve made dozens of lobbying visits to Washington to meet with members of Congress and administration officials, and have attended aviation hearings and held news conferences.