Airline disputes lawmakers' Flight 3407 email allegations

"Following that event and prior to his request to transition to the Q400 aircraft, Renslow underwent additional training, successfully upgraded to Saab Captain and received his FAA type rating from an FAA-designated examiner," the Colgan statement continued. "As a Saab captain, he had three successful checking events. He was qualified to begin his transition training into the Q400 aircraft, but the email exchange shows Colgan’s chief pilot required Renslow to pass his next scheduled check flight before being allowed to begin transition training into the Q400."

Colgan said the NTSB ruled the pilot of the flight that crashed "was properly trained, certified and qualified under all applicable federal aviation regulations to act as Pilot-In-Command of a Q400 aircraft. 

"He was Airline Transport Pilot rated, which is the highest level of certification available," they said.

In letters to Colgan and NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman Tuesday, the lawmakers called for the investigation in the 2009 crash, which killed 50 people, to be reopened.

"It is our understanding that the correspondence in question was not provided to National Transportation Safety Board investigators during the Flight 340 investigation during the Flight 3407 investigation," they wrote to Colgan Air CEO George Casey and the head of Colgan's parent company, Pinnacle Airlines, Sean Menke.

"In light of this, we request that you explain your participation in the NTSB investigative process, what criteria you used to determine what information to disclose to the NTSB during the investigation and why these emails were not included in this disclosure," the lawmakers' letter continued.

The NTSB defended its investigation, saying it was based on the information that was made available to its investigators.

"As part of our investigation, the NTSB conducted interviews with multiple personnel involved in Colgan’s training and flight operations, including the chief pilot, check airmen, the director of flight standards, the director of crew training, and the VP of flight operations," the agency said in a statement. "It is disappointing that Colgan Air did not provide these emails during the course of the NTSB’s investigation; they would have provided more context about Colgan’s training and screening of their pilots."

As a result of the crash of Flight 3407, changes to regional pilot training and scheduling requirements are being considered. The Federal Aviation Administration began working to implement stricter rules after Congress passed the the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act in 2010. But thus far, the changes have been hung up in the federal regulatory process.

A group formed to lobby for the families of victims of the crash has pressured regulators to act more swiftly on the changes, and they have called on President Obama to intervene.