Cantwell Delivers Remarks at Commerce Subcommittee Hearing on Aviation Safety

March 27, 2019

Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, delivered the following remarks before a hearing of the Committee’s subcommittee on Aviation and Space titled, “The State of Airline Safety: Federal Oversight of Commercial Aviation.”

Senator Cantwell: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for holding this important hearing today to discuss the paramount issue of aviation safety here in the United States and around the world. I thank the witnesses for being here and their insights today, and I too want to recognize the families of Colgan Air Flight 3407 who are here today, because it is their continued persistence about getting aviation right that is so admirable. I thank them, and thank you all for being here.

The incidents that led us here today of the crash of Lion Air 610 last October, and the Ethiopian flight 302, are horrible human tragedies. I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the families and everyone impacted by this horrific incident. These two accidents cost 346 lives, leaving behind countless individuals and loved ones, who I know want to make sure this is never repeated.

The human toll is why we work every day to ensure that every possible step is taken to determine the causes that contributed to these incidents. And through the crash investigations, other federal investigations, and ongoing Congressional oversight, I believe we all share the same goal: to make sure these accidents are never repeated. It is critical that all those involved look at the causes of these accidents and work so everyone has the full picture of what happened.

Investigators in Indonesia and Ethiopia -- with help from the NTSB and FAA and other international partners – are working through the evidence to determine the causes of these accidents. And even though, as my colleagues have mentioned, global commercial aviation has experienced unprecedented periods of safety over the last decade, these two accidents are horrific reminders that we must remain vigilant in our oversight and focus on safety.

So I look forward to hearing the information from the witnesses that is available for us today. And I also commend yesterday, Secretary Chao’s indication that she will seek a previously authorized authority by the last 2018 FAA bill, which authorizes the establishment of a special committee of aviation experts to review the recommendations on the Federal Aviation Administration procedure process.

So I look forward their analysis, as they do the analysis of all the investigations that are ongoing. Safety remains paramount. And I look forward to working with all my colleagues on this very serious issue.