FAA=The Keystone Cops?
April 2, 2001 3:35 AM   Subscribe

FAA=The Keystone Cops? What kind of legal fallout can we expect from this? Considering the kind of wealth onboard the doomed flight, how much of us little'uns safety is considered on a general basis? I went to the airport the other day to pick up my dad, and unlike the other times where I'm asked to "change the display" on my phone and my cigarette pack is opened, they now lazily let me pass. Is there really any FAA supervison? We all have stories. Anyone care to share? Links, theories, conspiracy theories, stories. Please tell.
posted by crasspastor (4 comments total)
Am I the only one a little creeped out that the bodies will be sent home by air? I assume they'll be sent on a major airline which is presumably safer than an 'executive charter', but still.

As for airport security... the one time I flew out of Paris, they scanned us at about four or five different places through the airport -- not sure if they were scanning for the same stuff, or what. Other airports I've been to in Europe and of course the US, they don't do that, but my general and admittedly vague impression is that these days they're looking more closely and searching more bags. But I still don't know how they'd find you if you put bullets in a rabbit's foot on a keychain à la "In The Line Of Fire".
posted by caveday at 7:16 AM on April 2, 2001

Can we tone down the suspicion and blame-casting?

The FAA had actually moved to increase safety at this airport. Of course they can't supervise every single flight, though:

"FAA employs about 2,500 aviation safety inspectors to oversee about 7,300 scheduled commercial aircraft, more than 11,100 charter aircraft, about 184,400 active general aviation aircraft, about 4,900 repair stations, slightly more than 600 schools for training pilots, almost 200 maintenance schools, and over 665,000 active pilots. " [1996 source]

They depend on the diligence of the airlines and the judgement of the pilots. In this case, the pilots told the tower they had line-of-sight on the runway, so something very odd must have happened; it's not like they never reported in. The pilots were experienced; the charter company had an excellent safety record; and planes were landing this late at this airport for a very long time.

Whether an executive charter or a commercial airline, you're still going to be very safe in most circumstances.

There's little relationship between mechanical airworthiness, air traffic control supervision, and lax security at airports, so I don't know where you're going with this. The people manning those booths are paid very little and have very boring jobs; it's not surprising that this happens. All they're really trying to do is provide minimal deterrent; that's all they can afford to do, and it's all that the flying public will put up with.
posted by dhartung at 7:54 AM on April 2, 2001

Airport Security is provided by the low bidder - and not a factor in the Aspen crash anyway.

The NOTAM in question is, as I understand, a bit confusing and the reporting on same hasn't helped. "Circle to Land" is - by my understanding - a process of instrument procedures down to a certain altitude then, once visual contact is made with the runway, circling same for approach then landing.

It's not an instrument approach in the classic sense, but it is an instrument procedure.

Which has nothing to do w/ the Keystone Cops thing, which might have some merit EXCEPT for the problem of the FAA being charged with both promoting and enforcing aviation, forcing its members to work with one foot in the boat and one on the dock.

I've dealt w/ the FAA for many, many years. It has the same share of clowns and genius as any other global organization.
posted by Elvis at 9:01 AM on April 2, 2001

"The plane's crew was notified of the instrument ban before taking off from Los Angeles"

If a botched instrument approach was indeed the cause of this crash, it is still the pilot's fault. The Pilot in command is solely responsible for the safety of an aircraft. Pilot's are required to receive any and all information about a flight before departing on that flight. In this case, that information (about night landings not being allowed) was received by the pilot. It was up to him/her to use that information correctly.

A NOTAM is "A Notice To Airmen", not a notice to ATC. Granted, if the NOTAM was worded better, or if the tower was informed of that NOTAM, this crash may not have happened. Still though, it is the pilot's responsibility.

No matter what, the news media ALWAYS gives incorrect information about these things. They always want to place the blame on someone. They need to get an interesting story out of it.
posted by bondcliff at 9:50 AM on April 2, 2001

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