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Airline crash relatives to attend DOT nominee hearing

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"Over the past few decades, trade associations like Airlines for America and the Regional Airline Association have been the undisputed heavyweight champions when it has come to taking on safety advocacy groups like us and finding a way to obstruct the rulemaking process," Maurer said in a statement.

"As Mayor Foxx potentially enters the fray here at the eleventh hour, you can be sure that he has already heard, or will be hearing, from multiple industry henchmen that the sky is about to fall for the airlines if these new regulations are allowed to be implemented in the strongest manner intended by Congress," Maurer continued.

"Hopefully, he follows the lead of his predecessor [Transportation] Secretary [Ray] LaHood and puts safety first, ensuring that passengers on regional airlines receive the most highly-qualified and well-trained crew possible. If only Colgan/Pinnacle/Continental/United would have done the same for Lorin.”

The DOT crafted new scheduling rules for pilots in response to the Colgan crash, but the families of the accident's victims want more regulations of airline industry -- regional carriers in particular.

Airlines have largely been quiet on Foxx's nomination since it was announced last month by President Obama.

The lobbying group for airlines, Airlines for America (A4A), issued a short statement on the day of Foxx's nomination saying that he is familiar with the airline hub system.

“As an elected leader of a hub market, Mayor Foxx understands well how important airlines are to jobs and the economy,” A4A President and CEO Nicholas Calio said on April 29. “A4A urges quick Senate confirmation, and looks forward to working with him to address policy and infrastructure challenges that impede airlines from competing globally and achieving sustained profitability.”

U.S. Airways currently uses Charlotte's Douglas International Airport as one of its hubs.

However, Foxx has been expected to focus on mass transit because of his support for public transportation projects in Charlotte, where he has served as mayor since 2009.

"When Anthony became mayor in 2009, Charlotte, like the rest of the country, was going through a bruising economic crisis," Obama said when he introduced Foxx as his Transportation secretary nominee.

"But the city has managed to turn things around," Obama continued. "The economy is growing. There are more jobs, more opportunity. And if you ask Anthony how that happened, he’ll tell you that one of the reasons is that Charlotte made one of the largest investments in transportation in the city’s history."

Foxx is scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Wednesday afternoon.

The panel will have to approve his nomination before it goes to a full vote of the Senate.