"Miracle" Co-Pilot to March with Families of Buffalo Crash

Anniversary of Deadly Crash is Next Week

By Andrew Siff
|  Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010  |  Updated 7:55 AM EDT
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Plane's Emergency Landing on NJ Turnpike

Flight 3407 crashed into a house in Buffalo February 12, 2009

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Sully's Co-Pilot To March With Families of Buffalo Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board delivers its final report on the crash of Flight 3407 Tuesday.
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The relatives of Flight 3407 victims don't mince words. They blame the death of their loved ones on the inexperienced pilots who sat in the cockpit. They also blame regional airlines for failing to train their crews.

To make that point, on February 12th -- the anniversary of the crash --  the victims' loved ones are planning to walk the final miles of the never-completed route from Clarence Center to Buffalo. And they've arranged for Jeffrey Skiles, First Officer aboard one of America's most uplifting flights -- the Miracle on the Hudson -- to walk with them.

"Symbolically what that says to us is an experienced pilot could have led our families to the airport safely," said John Kausner, whose daughter Elly was killed in the crash.

Kausner is among at least 60 relatives in Washington, D.C. attending Tuesday's release of the National Transportation Safety Board's final report on the crash. Among the expected findings: pilot error, poor training and fatigue were key factors.

"It was preventable, it was foreseeable, and it is repeatable," says Kausner.

Colgan Airlines Flight 3407 took off from Newark last February 12th for a one-hour flight to Buffalo. Captain Marvin Renslow had previously failed several performance tests, something the airline claims it did not realize. And first officer Rebecca Shaw, who made only $16,000 per year, arrived at work that day exhausted and sick.

"These issues of fatigue, lack of training, lack of pilot experience have been going on for decades now," said Karen Eckert, whose sister Beverly may have been the most famous of the victims of Flight 3407. Beverly Eckert was an outspoken 9/11 widow whose tenacity helped create the 9/11 Commission.

Karen says Beverly would want the FAA to act immediately on the NTSB's findings.

"Calling the carriers and asking the carriers to do something voluntarily is not what's going to save lives," she said.

Colgan says it has already made safety changes, including a requirement of more mandatory flight hours for new pilots, and better background checks to help screen out applicants who have failed performance tests.

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