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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Near miss

A move is underway to do something in regards to airport runway collisions. From AP-

WASHINGTON - There is "a high risk of a catastrophic runway collision occurring in the United States" because of faltering federal leadership, malfunctioning technology and overworked air traffic controllers, congressional investigators concluded Wednesday.

The investigators gave the Federal Aviation Administration credit for reducing runway safety incidents from a peak in 2001 but said "FAA's runway safety efforts subsequently waned" as the number of incidents settled at a lower level.

Then in fiscal 2007, which ended Sept. 30, the incidents spiked to 370, or 6.05 runway incursions per 1 million air traffic control operations, almost returning to 2001's 407 incursions and 6.1 rate. An incursion is any aircraft, vehicle or person that goes where it shouldn't be in space reserved for take-off or landing.


Then-Federal Aviation Administrator Marion Blakely stepped into that leadership void in August by calling an industrywide brainstorming conference to produce ideas for quick action. In October, the FAA reported progress on steps recommended by the August conclave, particularly in speeding improved runway markings and pilot training. The GAO report approved of those moves but also recommended more leadership from the FAA, improved data collection and a reduction in overtime required of air traffic controllers.

"This report makes clear that the Bush administration is cutting corners and failing to put passenger safety first," Lautenberg said. "The FAA is taking too many chances and ignoring too many red flags."

Even though serious incursions, where a collision was narrowly averted, declined to a record low 24 in 2007 from 31 the year before, the report said they have remained high enough since the FAA took its eye off the ball to represent a high risk of catastrophe.

Since 1990, 63 people have died in six U.S. runway collisions. And the FAA's previous definition didn't classify some serious runway errors as incursions, including an Aug. 27, 2006, crash in Lexington, Ky., of a Comair jet that took off from a too-short runway, killing 49.

This year has seen dramatic near-misses. On Aug. 16, two commercial jets carrying 296 people came within 37 feet of colliding at Los Angeles International. A Delta Boeing 757 touched down in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., July 11 and had to take off immediately to avoid hitting a United Airbus A320 mistakenly on its runway. A Delta Boeing 737 landing at New York's LaGuardia airport July 5 narrowly missed a commuter jet mistakenly cleared to cross its runway.
I wrote about the Fort Lauderdale incident in posts here and here.

It is silly, but rather predictable coming from some democrats, to blame these near misses on the Bush administration. The FAA at present is a mess, as can been seen by the low number of trained air traffic controllers, in addition to the blunders responsible for the Lexington Kentucky crash. The US has gone six years without a major airline disaster. We can't get complacenet for air safety, but history as proven over and over again, it takes a disaster for action to take place. How many people will have to die for FAA incompetence in addition to those 49 in Kentucky last year?

Note- I don't think posturing in Washington DC by Democrats or Republicans is going to fix matters also. Does Lautenberg or any other senator have a proposal to prevent these near misses before a tragedy occurs? I bet not.

Linked to- Bullwinkle, Church and State, Right Voices, The World According to Carl,

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