Harsh Words For (and a Request To) TSA Administrator Pistole

May 20, 2013

To: TSA Administrator John Pistole, Washington, DC

From: 9/11 widow Rebecca Marchand, Phoenix, Arizona

Dear Administrator Pistole:

As you know, I was widowed on 9/11 when my husband, United Airlines Flight Attendant Alfred Marchand, was murdered by terrorists using box cutters to slash the throats of flight attendants. Today my 27-year old son is a flight attendant. After repeatedly asking for an invitation to a TSA briefing on your decision to allow knives back on flights, I am outraged at the excuses I have been given. I have the right to comment on this issue. You are ignoring many stakeholders who have a right to be heard and I will not go away without being allowed to comment face-ta-face on this change.

You took a solemn oath to secure not only aircraft but also the passengers and crew aboard. From the start, you mishandled the knives proposal by failing to get input from airlines, flight crews, your own employees or anyone else but your inner circle. The announcement was a complete surprise to the aviation community and a huge blow to 9/11 families. I am sickened by your approach. It’s possible this is the way you did business at the FBI, but it is utterly inappropriate in the job you now hold involving so many important stakeholders.

TSA has repeatedly claimed that allowing knives on passenger flights follows an international standard when in fact there is no international standard. The USA should be the leader in aviation security. We were the ones attacked by terrorists with box cutters. After the Boston bombings, TSA delayed implementation ostensibly to get “more input.” We now know you never intended to seek input from the “public.” I believe the delay was used as a way to distance the knife policy from the bombings and quiet the TSA’s critics. But I will not be silenced or stand by and let the TSA put passengers and crew members at risk the way the US government failed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11.

I request that you schedule a briefing open to all 9/11 family members who wish to attend and to seriously consider their input. You, Sir, still get to go home to your wife every night. It has been almost 12 years since I lost the chance to ever see my husband again. The 9/11 families’ loved ones were stolen from us by men using box cutter blades smaller than the knives you now want to allow on planes. I look forward to your prompt emailed response to my request.

Flight 3407 Families to DOT Nominee Foxx: “Safety Must Be Top Priority”

Flight 3407 Families to DOT Nominee Foxx: “Safety Must Be Top Priority”

Buffalo, New York- May 1, 2013

The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s nomination of Anthony Foxx to be the next Transportation Secretary:

“As numerous entities weigh in on Mayor Foxx’s nomination in terms of the ability of his cabinet seat to influence jobs and the economy in the transportation sector, our group serves as a reminder that economic-driven shortcuts employed by some regional airlines can have disastrous consequences.  While we are all for promoting the economy, we learned the hard way what can happen when the airlines are allowed to run roughshod over the FAA, owing to a laissez-faire approach to the industry by the White House in the years leading up to February 12, 2009.

“Looking back on the last four years since this needless tragedy, we applaud Secretary LaHood’s continued prioritization of safety across all modes of transportation, in particular his success in steering through landmark new flight and duty time guidelines which will greatly improve the plight of regional airline pilots.  The next six months are a critical period for DOT and FAA in terms of achieving full implementation of the 2010 Airline Safety Act, and this transition at the top of the Department of Transportation cannot be allowed to cause any further delay to key rulemakings on pilot qualifications and crewmember training.   “We look forward to following Mayor Foxx’s Senate confirmation process closely, and learning more about his positions on key transportation safety issues.”

The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ group was immediately organized after the crash as a support network and an activist group to work on aviation safety reform.  Visit the group’s website or follow them on twitter @3407Families learn more about their efforts.
Contact:      Takla Boujaoude                    takla.3407@gmail.com                     716-907-2425

No Knives On Planes – NADA/F Opposes Loosening of TSA Rules

Back on March 13, we sent the following press release about the TSA plan to loosen the rules around the prohibited items. Shortly thereafter, flight attendants, airlines, screeners and the public came out against the loosening of the rules too.

Head of the TSA, John Pistole, announced a delay in implementation. Senators Schumer and Murkowski requested the inspector general to look into the TSA decision making.

But, since Pistole has no actual plans to reverse course, it warrants repeating. Although the delay was supposed to be 60 days, the feedback deadline is May 17. Please continue to send the message to your representatives. No Knives on Planes! Pistole is Wrong! There has been no transparency of which “stakeholders” approved this change!



National Aviation Disaster Family Members Opposed to TSA Poor Decision to Allow Passengers to Carry Pocket Knives, Baseball Bats and Golf Clubs on Commercial Airline Flights!

The National Air Disaster Alliance/Foundation (NADA/F), founded by air crash survivors and family members, is shocked and strongly opposed to the TSA (Transportation Security Agency) decision to allow passengers to carry pocket knives and more on board aircraft.  TSA is responsible for the safety and security measures, and can find other ways to be cost effective.  All levels of our U.S. government need to realize that Aviation Safety and Security is National Security. TSA said passenger knives conform to international standards.  However, it was the U.S. that was attacked on 9/11, and the U.S must lead with the highest levels of Aviation Security.

I share with you, comments from our NADA/F Board Members and Members, and let their words be the Voice of the Victims for TSA to continue to ban knives and weapons from flights, and protect the traveling public.

Matt Ziemkiewicz, President, NADA/F
Brother to Flight Attendant Jill Ziemkiewicz, TWA 800


TSA Administrator John Pistole said, “Razor blades and box-cutters, like those used by the 9/11 terrorists, will still be banned.  There is too much emotion involved with those.”  This is not an emotional issue, and shows revisionist history at its worst.  Knives on planes are a real and demonstrated danger.  Flight Attendants and passengers are the last line of defense, and commercial aviation must be safe and secure.  We do need to be able to travel without fear.

–Diane Horning, NADA/F Board Member

Mother of Matthew Horning, killed September 11, 2001


Have we gone nuts?  We have come full circle into banning these because they caused 9/11, into now being told and believing that the threat is over?  What was it that caused 9/11? 

Ahh… I remember now.  “A failure of imagination…”

–Kathy and Gordon Haberman, NADA/F Board Members

Parents of Andrea Haberman, 9/11 World Trade Center


As parents of our daughter who died on 9/11, we are opposed to the change to allow pocket knives on commercial airplanes.  It was widely reported in the initial aftermath of 9/11 that the hijackers used box cutters, but none were ever found, and the actual weapons used were never confirmed, per the 9/11 Commission Report.

Does Mr. Pistole have a loss of memory?  Is 9/11 no longer viewed as a catastrophic event?  Mr. Pistole said stakeholders are aware of the change.  What stakeholders support allowing knives on planes? The TSA must ensure that all possible measures be taken to avoid such a disaster again.  The ban on knives and weapons should not be changed.

–Thomas & Joann Meehan, NADA/F Members

Parents of Coleen Ann Meehan Barkow, 9/11 World Trade Center


We know that TSA is trying to save money, but at what horrible price?

–Barbara McFann

Widow of Ted McFann, Delta Captain

Flight 3407 Families Look to Huerta for Progress at Senate Safety Hearing on Wednesday

Buffalo, New York- March 19, 2013 – With two deadlines for critical safety rules fast-approaching, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ announced that they will be in attendance at Wednesday’s hearing to be held by the Senate Commerce Committee on “Aviation Safety: FAA’s Progress on Key Safety Initiatives.”

  • Pilot Qualifications Rule Due August 1st
  • Pilot Training Final Rule Due Mid-October

“We are really getting down to crunch time with these critical final rules on pilot qualifications and training,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year-old daughter Lorin.  “When you are dealing with a bureaucratic Bermuda Triangle of FAA, DOT, and OMB, there are plenty of opportunities for delays and missteps to occur.  And as always the airlines and their lobbyists are lurking in the shadows trying to stall and water down these initiatives in any way possible.  We are counting on Administrator Huerta to deliver good news in terms of his agency’s progress in (finally) achieving these safety reforms.  They are critical in raising the bar for our nation’s regional airlines and their commitment to, and investment in, safety.”  The “Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements” rulemaking, which will significantly raise the entry level qualifications of First Officers at regional airlines, is due on August 1 of this year.  The “Qualification, Service, and Use of Crewmembers and Aircraft Dispatchers” rulemaking, which will revamp the pilot training curriculum for commercial airlines, has been in progress at FAA since 1999, is already over 17 months overdue, and now faces a revised deadline of October 21 of this year.   In addition to FAA Administrator Huerta, the hearing will feature testimony from NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman, whose agency was responsible for the investigation and final report on the crash of Flight 3407.  The NTSB’s findings were a driving force behind many of the provisions included in the 2010 Airline Safety Act.  “Chairman Hersman’s presence will serve as a vivid reminder of why these safety initiatives needed to be implemented yesterday” stated Susan Bourque, of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister, Beverly Eckert, a noted 9/11 widow and activist.  “She consistently makes the argument that ‘Safety delayed is safety denied’, and when you look at the FAA’s foot-dragging when it comes to addressing the issues revealed by the Flight 3407 investigation like stall recognition and recovery training, and the maintenance of comprehensive pilot training records, that mantra could not be any more evident.  Every unaddressed safety recommendation leaves a dangerous gap that could potentially result in another completely avoidable tragedy like Flight 3407.  Shame on FAA, DOT, OMB, and yes, even the White House, if we cannot finally complete these common-sense safety reforms.”

Wednesday’s hearing will be held at 2:30 pm in Room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building.

Contact:    Takla Boujaoude                     takla.3407@gmail.com                716-907-2425

The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ group was immediately organized after the crash as a support network and an activist group to work on aviation safety reform.  Visit the group’s website at  or follow them on twitter to learn more about their efforts.

Matt Ziemkiewicz Reports from the International Society of Air Safety Invesigators Regional Conference

We a great time in Charleston, South Carolina at the International Society of Air Safety Investigators, Southeast Regional chapter conference over the weekend. Nice weather, great town and terrific hosts. We were happy to have our local Board member, Lea Ann Adkins, as well as Board member Alice Hoagland participate.

On Friday, we had a brief tour of the Boeing Charleston assembly plant for the new 787 Dreamliner. They even had a few modified 747 Dreamliners there too!

The group assembled for the conference was intimate and everyone was very friendly. The speakers were terrific.

On Saturday, we learned about about airplane survivability, then Sikorsky helicopter safety and the NTSB regional accident response overview. In addition, Mary Schiavo presented about how investigations can sometimes go wrong, but gave examples of how they can go right too.


Left to Right; Bob Renzio, Matt, Lea Ann, Alice, and Mary Schiavo

25th Memorial of the Northwest Flight 255 Aviation Disaster

Thursday, August 16, 2012 – late evening

Ky Dickens will be at the Memorial site about 6:30 pm to discuss the documentary film Sole Survivor which will be completed soon and will premier early 2013. Ky is the Director and Writer of the film which focuses on four of the 14 sole survivors from major aviation disasters.  The film includes Northwest Flight 255 and Cecelia Cichan, the sole survivor.  It is a sensitive voice of victim’s experiences, and an honest face to survivorship. 

The Northwest 255 Memorial site is on the embankment of Middlebelt Road at the entrance to I‑94, east of Romulus, Michigan, just east of Detroit metropolitan Airport. There is a traffic light just prior to the embankment. Family members gather at the site starting at about 7:30 pm and have a simple service at 8:46 pm that includes a reading of the names of their loved ones.

We wish the family members a measure of peace wherever they will be on this 25th memorial.


Gail Dunham, Executive Director, NADA/F

Flight 3407 Families Call on Commerce Committee to Support Huerta’s Nomination; Critical Rulemaking at FAA Hanging in the Balance

Flight 3407 Families Call on Commerce Committee to Support Huerta’s Nomination;  Group is Counting on Acting Administrator to Complete Key Rulemaking on Pilot Training and Qualifications in Swift Manner

Buffalo, New York- July 31, 2012

With the Senate’s Commerce Committee scheduled to hold an executive session on Tuesday afternoon to consider the nomination of Michael Huerta as FAA Administrator, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ called on Chairman John D. ‘Jay’ Rockefeller (D-WV), ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and their colleagues on the committee to approve the nomination of Huerta, and send his name to the entire Senate body for its approval.  At the same time, the group underscored the importance of Huerta living up to his pledge to Chairman Rockefeller at his confirmation hearing to expedite a long-overdue rulemaking that would revamp airlines’ pilot training programs.  And the group continues to press the FAA to withstand industry pressure and finalize a rulemaking that would significantly enhance the entry-level requirements for commercial airline first officers.

“Since Mr. Huerta took over as acting Administrator, he has made a sincere effort to get to know our group and to understand our passion for achieving a true ‘One Level of Safety’ when comparing our nation’s regional airlines with their parent carriers,” stated Susan Bourque of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister and noted 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert.  “We appreciate the efforts of him and his staff to date in implementing many of the provisions contained in the law that we fought to get passed two years ago, and we would like to see him receive the opportunity to continue to advance the many initiatives that are still in progress.  However, the true legacy will not lie in what is contained in the law itself, but rather in what is contained in the regulations that come forth from it.  And of course, in the timeliness that it is implemented with.  Despite heavy push-back from the airlines and other industry sectors, we are counting on Mr. Huerta to see these rulemaking through to completion, to not allow the industry’s lobbying machine to water them down, and to complete these actions in the quickest manner possible in the interest of safety.”

In August 2010, Congress unanimously passed, and the President signed into law, PL 111-216, ‘The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010’, the most sweeping aviation legislation passed in over fifty years.  The legislation was primarily geared toward addressing safety deficiencies found at some of the nation’s regional airlines, with key provisions aimed at pilot fatigue, training, minimum entry-level hiring qualifications, airline safety management programs, and the creation of a national training records database.

The Commerce Committee’s executive session to consider Huerta’s nomination will be held this afternoon, Tuesday, July 31st, at 2:30 p.m. in Room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building.

The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ group was immediately organized after the crash as a support network and an activist group to work on aviation safety reform. Visit the group’s website or follow them on twitter @3407families to learn more about their efforts.

Contact:    Takla Boujaoude                     takla.3407@gmail.com                716-907-2425

Flight 3407 Families Call On FAA to Expedite Pilot Training Reforms in Wake of Air France Report

Air France Flight 447 Report Cites Lack of Training in ‘Surprise Situations’; Hauntingly Similar to Flight 3407 Findings

Buffalo, New York- July 10, 2012 – Responding to last week’s release of a final report on the causes of the fatal 2009 Air France crash that claimed 228 lives, the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ continued to press officials in the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation, and the White House Office of Management and Budget to pick up the pace in finalizing critical pilot training improvements that would address a recurring problem of pilots improperly responding to emergency situations.  The timeline for these safety reforms, which were unanimously approved by both houses of Congress in 2010 and directed to be completed by October 2011, has recently been pushed back to October 2013 by the FAA and the Obama Administration.

Citing a process which already dates back to 1999, and which includes heavy industry pressure to delay the FAA’s efforts, the family group called on acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to come through for the flying public and put safety ahead of the industry’s bottom line.   “Just like with what the NTSB found with Flight 3407, the Air France final report underscores the dramatic need to better train our pilots to react to emergency situations, and in particular to not be so heavily reliant on the automation in the cockpit,” stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty-year old daughter Lorin.  “And it is not just one crash investigation calling for this; it is multiple crash investigations, and it is expert pilots like Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles from the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’.  Everyone keeps saying that we need to re-emphasize pilots’ manual flying skills, and train their responses to emergency situations in a more realistic and robust way, and yet we continue to see the FAA spinning its wheels.

Shame on us if we continue to let months and years pass because we can’t cut through the bureaucratic red tape and achieve a common-sense solution that has been staring us in the face for the past three years.  And don’t get me started on the airlines doing this voluntarily; voluntary compliance, or the lack thereof, is exactly why the crash of Flight 3407 happened in the first place.”    The group called on FAA and the Administration to live up to Huerta’s pledge to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. ‘Jay’ Rockefeller (D-WV) to ‘provide the resources to get this done as quickly as possible’, in reference to a process which has already included industry input from a rule making advisory committee and two rounds of proposed rules with comment periods.  Of even greater concern, the FAA’s latest proposal carries a five year compliance window, which would potentially not require the changes until 2019, over 10 years after the Flight 3407 crash.

Contact:         Takla Boujaoude          takla.3407@gmail.com                     716-907-2425

The ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ group was immediately organized after the crash as a support network and an activist group to work on aviation safety reform.  Visit the group’s website or follow them on twitter @3407families to learn more about their efforts.


Airlines Fight FAA Rule – WSJ

On May 7, The Wall Street Journal published a piece by Andy Pasztor, about Airlines for America‘s letter to FAA seeking to further delay a safety measure mandated by a 2008 regulation designed to prevent another tragedy like TWA 800. NADA/F is distressed at the industry’s stalling on this issue and hopes the FAA won’t let this slide.

Safety delayed IS safety denied!

Below is Matt Ziemkiewicz’ response letter:

May 10, 2012

To the Editor:

Re: Wall Street Journal article

May 8, 2012 Airlines Fight FAA Rule Industry Seeks More Time to Modify Fuel Tanks, Targets Other Safety Mandates By ANDY PASZTOR

The National Air Disaster Alliance/ Foundation (NADA/F) is disappointed in Airlines for America request to delay instituting the long overdue FAA required fuel tank inerting systems that will prevent fuel tank explosions. Elimination of explosive and flammable fuel vapors on airplanes has been a long standing NTSB Most Wanted List safety improvement. Such a device would have prevented TWA Flight 800 and several other fiery disasters.

In July 2008, the Department of Transportation Secretary Peters, FAA Administrator Sturgel, and NTSB Chairman Rosenker announced very publicly that a rule has been instituted mandating retro fit of existing aircraft and all new production aircraft to be fitted with devices to eliminate the explosive fuel vapor environment in fuel tanks. The technology has evolved from a large and involved process to a smaller more economical unit. There has already been over ten years of bureaucratic and industry induced delays and compromise to get this requirement instituted in July 2008.

We are disturbed that Airlines for America appears to be looking more at the bottom line than on safety. It also seems the FAA approval process is contributing to implementation delays. NADA/F wants air travel to be as safe and responsible as possible, the traveling public demands it. It is not only a moral responsibility but a practical one to ensure the highest standards of safety are adhered to by the industry. It is up to the aviation industry and the FAA to “do the right thing” and get these inerting devices on airplanes that present risk, streamline the bureaucratic process and avoid any further delays. Safety delayed is safety denied.

We hope and pray that the FAA stays on its original course to mandate fuel tank inerting that will save lives so other families will never have to face the tragedy that mine has had to endure.

The National Air Disaster Alliance/ Foundation www.planesafe.org is a non-profit grass roots aviation advocacy group comprised of family members, survivors, and industry professionals to promote safety, security, survivability and support for those affected by aviation disasters. NADA/F is a charter member of the FAA Aviation Rule Making Advisory Committee and appointed to Aviation Rule Making Committees.

Matthew Ziemkiewicz,


National Air Disaster Alliance/ Foundation
TWA Flight 800 Family Member

2010 Annual Meeting Initial Recap

Our Annual Meeting took place this weekend in Arlington, Virginia. It was a great success.  I learned new things from the presentations and met new people – therefore very worthwhile for me personally! I tried my hand at videotaping the programs for posting on YouTube at some point soon – I hope they turn out well, as the content was very good!

Gail offered this summary via email this morning:

We had over 100 people.  About five were Founding Members, some old and dear friends and new members too. When we have a meeting we also hear from members and promote NADA/F. We all represent a shared commitment for aviation safety and security.  

We have fewer new members, which is good news, but recent crashes are more likely to be regional/commuter flights, and very preventable. 

We will welcome four new board members representing US1549 (Miracle on the Hudson), CO3407, (the Buffalo crash) and Alaska 261.  

On the one hand we are still pursuing required child seats for children under two, although we now have new opportunities to get the mandate through.  I remind myself that League of Women Voters worked for 40 years to get women the right to vote.  Surely safe seats for babies on airplanes should not take longer. 

For “new” news we look forward to working with Kenyon International! 

On Saturday, we gave out several awards recognizing people whose efforts parallel our organization’s.  I will have to touch on the lunch awards in a different post. However, because I have this photo available, let me congratulate again our evening winners!  The Awards Dinner took place in the 15th floor dining room of the Doubletree Hotel.  The weather was wonderful, so the DC views from the patio were easily enjoyed!
  • NTSB Chair, Deborah Hersman, received the Aviation Safety Award for 2009 (since we didn’t have our Annual Meeting last year). She was endorsed by the Fahey family, who especially appreciated her accessibility and support in the Comair Flight 5191 crash investigation.  She also gave a terrific speech on her goals for the Board in the coming year.
  • Jan Brown, a retired United Airlines flight attendant, received the Aviation Safety Award for 2010. She was a surviving flight attendant on United Flight 232, July 19, 1989, when a child died because he was not in a child seat. She has worked harder than anyone for over 20 years to promote required seats in flight for children under the age of two. 
  • Christine Negroni received the Journalism Award for 2010.  She is an aviation journalist, whose work appears in The New York Times, and author of Deadly Departure: Why the Experts Failed to Prevent the TWA Flight 800 Disaster and How It Could Happen Again. She also hosts an informative blog called Flying Lessons.

Jan Brown, Deborah Hersman, Matt Ziemkiewicz, Christine Negroni

NADA/F President, Matt Ziemkiewicz, with our Award Winners.
Photo: Kyle Gustafson