Flight 3047 Families Fighting Back

One year ago today, Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed as it approached the Buffalo, N.Y. airport, killing 50 people. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators say pilot error caused the accident.

Now, dozens of victims' families are suing to get more answers.

Scott Maurer, who lost his daughter Lorin in the crash, is one of those relatives. CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg reported that Maurer is channeling his grief to fight with other families whose loved ones also perished.

"We'll never get over it," Mauer told CBS News. "I'll never forget that phone call."

Mauer and the other families are fighting to improve air safety on regional carriers, like Colgan Air, which operated the Continental flight.

Problem number one, according to "Miracle on the Hudson" first officer, Jeff Skiles, is pilot training.

Skiles says, "They've never seen icing. They've never seen thunderstorms."

Greenberg added pilot fatigue is another issue. The NTSB says it's been a factor in at least 300 airline accident deaths over the last 16 years.

Debbie Hersman, chairman of the NTSB, told CBS News, "We had a first officer that was commuting cross-country from Seattle and had taken an overnight series of flights to get to Newark."

Another problem, Greenberg said is truth in advertising. Only the fine print Lorin Maurer's ticket said "Colgan Air."

Skiles said, "It's only when it crashes and kills you that it becomes Colgan Airways."

Robin Tolsma, 44, and Jennifer West, 40, both lost their husbands on Flight 3407. Now very close friends, they've joined forces to sue the airline.

"It's not about the money," West said. "The only way to punish an airline is through a lawsuit. And we want it to be so catastrophic that Colgan gets put out of business. We want these changes to be made, we want an example to be made, and we do not want any of our loved ones' deaths to be in vain."

Tolsma says she won't fly until legislation is passed to make air travel safer.

"I feel air travel is unsafe," she said. "Right now, it's only 250 hours of in-flight hours for a pilot to be in the cockpit. That needs to change. We, as family members are pushing for 1,500 hours of in-flight time. And in order for a pilot to have an airline transport pilot's license, we don't want somebody who has 800 hours who flew a crop duster or who flew a banner over a stadium. We need to have trained pilots because if they were trained, our husbands would be alive. And if we don't push forward to have this done, then the problem with that is, we are just as guilty as coal began for any other future fatalities."




For more information on this effort, go to the Flight 3047 Web site here. You can also read more about this case on Bloomberg here.
  • CBSNews

Comments