Tammy Duckworth hits Kyrsten Sinema for pilot proposal: ‘Blood on your hands’

Tammy Duckworth
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaks with reporters about reproductive rights for U.S. veterans, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, April 19, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon/AP

Tammy Duckworth hits Kyrsten Sinema for pilot proposal: ‘Blood on your hands’

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Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) slammed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I-AZ) proposal to change the amount of training that airline pilots need on Thursday, claiming there would be “blood on your hands” if senators adopt the amendment.

Some small regional airlines have been pushing for changes to a rule that requires commercial airline pilots to have 1,500 hours of training before they can fly for public airlines. The amendment proposed by Sinema would change how new pilots are trained by allowing certain kinds of airline training programs to be weighted more heavily toward the 1,500-hour requirement.

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Although there is a pilot shortage in the airline industry, Democrats have largely been against relaxing the rules, citing concerns about public safety.

“Now is not the time to put corporate profits ahead of the lives of our constituents who may want to board a commercial flight in the future,” Duckworth said on the Senate floor on Thursday.

“A vote to [change the training rules] for pilots will mean blood on your hands when the inevitable accident occurs as a result of an inadequately trained flight crew,” she added.

Duckworth highlighted that no airline aviation fatality has occurred because of pilot error since the 1,500-hour training requirement was implemented, and she warned that relaxing the requirements would “represent a serious risk with no reward.”

“It represents an unacceptable backsliding, a dangerous complacency in an industry where complacency kills,” Duckworth said. “As chair of the aviation safety subcommittee, as a professional aviator, as a private pilot, I am holding the line on safety.”

Duckworth said she understood that the pilot shortage has been hard for the airline industry, and she said she understood “the temptation to cut corners.” But when asked for specifics on how many additional pilots would be available if the minimum hours were reduced, Duckworth said she received “no precise estimates, let alone any credible projections,” according to Politico.

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has indefinitely delayed the markup of its Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill amid the dispute.

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The amendment comes two days after Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and ranking member Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced their $107 billion version of the FAA reauthorization bill. Cantwell and Cruz claim the 461-page bill will improve runway safety, track high-altitude balloons, prevent airlines from charging families to sit together, and prepare the nation’s airspace for the future of air travel.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released its version of the FAA reauthorization bill on Friday.

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