ARSAC president replies to FAA letter

To the Editor:

Regarding the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] Western-Pacific Region letter in your January 15th issue:

We agree that the FAA is responsible for aircraft safety, but the “wordsmithed” FAA press releases using selective reasoning with biased data to justify their positions is unacceptable.

FAA communication manager Ian Gregor’s letter is a case in point. He indicated that the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) tower is “staffed within their authorized ranges.” While that is possible, he fails to address the staffing concern that a greater proportion of staff is trainees or new controllers with far less experience.

His quoted LAX South Complex safety record was based on only a portion of the 2008 year instead of the whole year during which more incursions still occurred on the south complex than the north one. Further yet, Mr. Gregor forgot to mention that the majority of the incursions cited are attributed to human error, not runway configuration.

Mr. Gregor cited the fact that runway status lights improve safety. We concur, but again he fails to mention that it was the city, not the FAA, that pushed for runway status light installation and that the March installation is only a partial, pilot program, which will not cover all intersections that we have requested.

The FAA should read the Airline Pilots Association white paper on incursions. It notes that incursion numbers drop statistically faster than air traffic reductions — as is the case at LAX. Reduced traffic rates and increased spacing between aircraft will help safety. Consistently following the LAX preferential runway usage patterns set by Los Angeles World Airports [LAWA, the agency that operates LAX and the city’s other airports] to reduce noise would also improve safety; ask [London’s] Heathrow Airport.

Two years ago the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion (ARSAC) participated in an FAA runway safety meeting in Washington, D.C. At that time we requested to see any hard data that justifies the FAA positions. To date, not a single page has been produced.

Denny Schneider, president

Alliance for a Regional

Solution to Airport Congestion (ARSAC)