Friday, June 01, 2007

FAA wake up call - Get tough on airworthiness!

A article in yesterday's NY Times discusses the causes of an airplane crash in Dec. 19, 2005 in Miami. This was a particular horrific crash as it cost the lives of 20 people on board a 58-year old Grumman Mallard seaplane used for nostalgic vacation flights between Florida and the Bahamas. The airplane's wing fell off in flight, resulting in catastrophic failure and death for all aboard.

And it could have undoubtedly been prevented with prudent maintenance inspections required of an airplane of this vintage.

The NYT article is noteworthy for reporting how the
NTSB cites FAA regulatory failure as a contributing cause to the crash. They're right to do so. The FAA has simply not applied aggressive enough safety standards to small operators, such as Chalk's Ocean Airways in this case, and to the aging planes they operate. This is inexcusable, and must be fixed.

No military aircraft would ever be allowed to operate with the lax airworthiness inspections that the FAA deems acceptable for such air carriers. Given a sensible "safety first" approach on airworthiness, this crash would undoubtedly have been prevented. It's time for the FAA to get their act together, or get new leadership.