WASHINGTON, D.C. — Family members of Flight 3407 victims are preparing for a very long day Thursday.
They’re back in Washington, striving to meet with as many members of Congress as possible, all in the name of gaining support for safer skies.
Monday marked nine years since Flight 3407 crashed in Clarence Center, killing all 49 people on board and one man on the ground. The National Transportation Safety Board ruled pilot error and a lack of training was the cause.
In 2010, the legislation the victim's families fought for was passed, translating into increased in-flight training time for co-pilots from 250 hours to 1,500 hours.
While major airlines and many pilots support the families' effort, regional airlines have been fighting it, saying they can't find enough pilots with those qualifications. Regionals argue they can do their own training and use simulators, but families say that was the standard in place and under which the pilot in charge of Flight 3407 had when their loved ones died. Their goal is to remind lawmakers what they lost and prevent watering down the aviation safety legislation.
Jen West, who lost her husband Ernie in the crash, made her 10th trip to D.C., but some of the families have traveled there more than 100 times.
"We make more of an impact because everybody is remembering what happened and it's fresh in your mind about people who fly in this kind of weather, and you want to make sure the pilots in the cockpit are trained and prepared so, I think it's become an annual thing because it's very strong to go now," Jen said.
"We went in the offices dropping off letters from the plane crash about my dad," said Summer West, her daughter. "It is very important because it reminds them of the day that my dad died in the plane crash. It reminds them to keep strong."
The initial legislation that passed had bipartisan support. It is still strongly supported by local lawmakers as well. The families are hoping that support from Republicans like Chris Collins and Tom Reed will help sway those on the fence.
On Monday, Collins posted a message of support on social media.
Rep. Reed also voiced his support for the families.