WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Collings Foundation, the non-profit who organized the B-17 flight that crashed last week, is pushing to keep their other vintage planes in the air.
Though they grounded their flights through the rest of the year following the deadly crash, they are working to renew their exemption status with the FAA.
Because the Collings Foundation fleet and the Experimental Aircraft Association’s B-17 are vintage planes, they don’t fit the same standards that commercial airplanes do today.
They have older engines and older technology, yet these groups feel they are still safe to fly and soon.
They will have to prove it to the FAA, a task that could be complicated by the deadly B-17 crash last week.
"Because it is an ex-military aircraft, it doesn’t normally fit the category of what you think an airplane today should be," Aluminum Overcast Crew Chief and mechanic Nick Hirsch tells us.
Hirsch says the B-17 owned by the Experimental Aircraft Association needs to regularly renew their exempt status with the FAA as part of a flight program that lets older and former military planes in the air to educate the public.
The Collings Foundation, who owned the doomed 909 that crashed at Bradley, applied to renew their exemption with the FAA as well.
The non-profit is asking on Facebook for those who participated in past rides to contact the FAA and to express their support in the public comment section.
Just in the comment section of their post alone, more than 100 people wrote in to support of the Collings Foundation in the wake of the deadly tragedy.
"[The way you made it sound, exemption, maybe is a little bit of a misnomer?] I think it is. Now, people think of exemption as, 'Well, is this safe to fly?'," asked Hirsch.
Hirsch says exemption means the plane has a different but equally stringent set of standards specifically designed for the EAA'S Aluminum Overcast.
"This is what the FAA has given us as guidelines and how we have to maintain it how we have to train our people and everything like that. They do monitor us on it," continued Hirsch.
He explains one change they've made to keep the plane safe.
"Because it is an older aircraft, we replace a lot of the wiring," says Hirsch.
Meantime, those who flew on the EAA's B-17 in Westfield acknowledged the Flying Fortress that went down and showed support for the organization that lost it.
"Our family supported the Collings Foundation for years and really believe strongly in what they’ve done. We actually got to see 909. Turning from something like a loss of history, which is very sad, to a tragedy a loss of life," passenger Chris Duane stated.
In their statement imploring people to write in for support, the Collings Foundation also reiterated their condolences for those lost in last weeks crash.
Two successful B-17 flights happened today in Westfield.
The EAA has five more scheduled for tomorrow.