What Should the Regulations be Regarding Airline Safety?
It was early in the morning, warm & sunny. We had the day off from school for some reason, but I can’t remember why. I was riding my bike in the street with my friend, Mike, about 4 blocks from my home in the North Park area of San Diego when I heard a faint blast, looked up and saw a jetliner falling out of the sky on fire. I can’t remember thinking anything except “It’s going to hit my house”. Then I realized there were probably a lot of people on the plane, and was immediately so scared I began to cry. Then I didn’t hear anything until the plane hit the ground. Watching that plane on impact is a sensation I hope I never have to relive again. The aircraft was diving at a steep angle and one wing was on fire, with flames shooting everywhere. I remember the plane disappearing behind some tall trees and then feeling the ground shake like an earthquake, and the deafening roar of the impact and following explosion. It was an absolute nightmare. It seemed like the entire neighborhood was on fire. The TV stations & news reporters were converging on the scene in what seemed like only a matter of minutes, but must’ve been at least half an hour. I think I just stood there talking to people for the longest time, but I don’t remember anything they said. There were only distant sirens. In a short period of time the police and several residents had blocked off the streets to traffic, and I remember hearing people screaming in the background, and others yelling to get help. I also remember the trees being on fire and this incredible column of black smoke rising into the clear air, and the smell of jet fuel burning. All these people – some Firefighters, some Police Officers, and some ordinary people – were carrying injured people and passengers into the private school across the street. I didn’t know then, but some of them were dead. I remember how weird it was that the freeway traffic was completely stopped on I-805, which was only a block from the impact site, and it was eerily quiet except for the distant chaos. My friend Mike disappeared. I found out he was okay, but he had gotten scared.
Today the area where the plane crashed looks oddly newer than the older homes in the area. I can’t imagine living there and knowing what had happened in 1978. I think a lot of those people have no idea what took place…. but maybe they do. I no longer live in San Diego, but I always drive by when I visit and say a little prayer (Peters). The above was a witness’s description of an accident that was caused by a malfunction in an airplane. It shows what happens to individual people, families, and their communities. People that don’t even have anything to do with airliners are often affected be these tragic events. We are here to address these events, discuss their causes, and foresee any possible ways to prevent, or at least cut down, these occurrences. We want to know what the regulations should be regarding airline safety.
History and Background
The topic of airline safety is a very controversial one with no real good answer that best suits everybody. The two extreme answers to this problem are either, increase airline safety regulations, or don’t. Both answers help and hurt a number of people, in a number of ways. If the airline regulations are increased, more tragedies would be avoided and more lives would be saved, however, if they were increased, than a chain of events will occur that will cause everything to be more expensive. First of all, in order for the airlines do adequately meet these new regulations, they will have to devote more time and more man – power to the project. This will then increase their input costs. With input costs being increased the ticket prices for consumers will then go up. Since obviously nobody likes rises in ticket prices, consumer consumption will then decrease dramatically. So basically, if the regulations become stricter, prices will go up, but lives will be saved. On the other hand if the regulations do not increase, prices will not be as high, yet more lives will be lost. What basically has to be done is people have to agree on how much of each they feel is important. The basically have to put a price on their lives. If they choose to not increase the regulations, then airline disasters will occur more frequently. There have been several accidents involving the U.S. in the last few years. The last accident occurred on July 25, 2000 involving an Air France Concorde near Paris, France: The aircraft was on a charter flight from Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris to JFK airport in New York. There was apparently a problem with at least one of the engines, either during takeoff or shortly after takeoff. The aircraft caught fire and crashed into a hotel near the airport. All 100 passengers and nine crewmembers were killed. Four people on the ground were also killed. On January 31 an Alaska Airlines MD83 crashed near Pt. Mugu, CA: The aircraft was on a flight from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to San Francisco when it crashed into the Pacific Ocean about 20 miles (32 km) northwest of the LAX airport. Reportedly, the aircraft was diverting to Los Angeles and started a rapid descent from about 17,000 feet. All 83 passengers and five crewmembers were killed.
On Halloween of 1999 an EgyptAir 767-300ER plane went down in the Atlantic Ocean near Nantucket Is., MA: Radar and radio contact with the aircraft was lost shortly after the aircraft departed JFK Airport in New York on a flight to Cairo. The aircraft was last sighted about 60 miles (96 km) SSE of Nantucket Is. The flight was carrying 15 crewmembers and 202 passengers. In June of 1999 an American Airlines MD80 went down in Little Rock, Arkansas. The aircraft ran off the runway, broke up, and caught fire after a night landing. There were thunderstorms in the area at the time of the event. One of the six crewmembers and 10 of the 139 passengers were killed. On September 2, 1998 a Swissair MD11 crashed near Halifax, Canada: The aircraft was on a nonstop flight from New York’s JFK airport to Geneva. The aircraft crashed at night in the Atlantic Ocean close to shore about 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia. All 15 crewmembers and 214 passengers were killed. These are just the most recent accidents in the past decade. Almost of all of these tragedies can be avoided with harsher regulations, but they have to implemented first.
Interest Groups and Elected Officials Sections
One group that is highly involved in airline safety is the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB is a small, non-regulatory, independent agency with about 400 employees. At a cost of about 18 cents per year per citizen, the Board strives to restore and maintain the safety of the nation’s transportation systems following aviation, rail, highway, marine, pipeline, and hazardous materials accidents. The Safety Board’s mission is very focused: to prevent future transportation accidents from occurring. The Board’s vision is for the public to continue to have confidence in our nation’s transportation systems, even when accidents occur, knowing that an independent body will determine the cause(s) of accidents and recommend corrective actions to be taken. Their four goals are: 1. To prevent future accidents, save lives, and reduce injuries and property damage. 2. To prevent future accidents, save lives, and reduce injuries and property damage. 3. To provide aviators and mariners with fair, timely, independent appellate review of certificate actions taken by the FAA and the US Coast Guard. 4. To be the best managed agency in government in order to facilitate the accomplishment of our other goals.
Another group that is interested in airline safety is the Air Line Pilots Association. ALPA provides all of the traditional union representation services for its members. This includes the lobbying of airline pilot views to Congress and government agencies. In addition, it devotes more than 20 percent of its dues income to support aviation safety. A network of more than 600 working airline pilots serve on local and national safety committees to carry out the Association’s safety work. A staff of professional aeronautics engineers and safety experts assists them. ALPA is usually granted “interested party” status in most major airline accidents, which means that ALPA accident investigators assist National Transportation Safety Board staff at the on-site investigations and participate in the ensuing public hearings. ALPA has initiated or participated in most of the numerous safety improvements over the years that have made U.S. airline travel the safest mode of transportation.
Congressman Bud Shuster is a fourteen term Member of the Congress of the United States who serves as the Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which includes jurisdiction over highways, transit, railroads, aviation, water resources, economic development, Merchant Marine, Coast Guard, and public buildings and grounds. He has been a principal author of much of America’s transportation legislation during the past two decades, which includes the Surface Transportation Act of 1982, the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987, and the landmark Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), the most historic transportation legislation since President Eisenhower and the Congress created the Interstate Highway System in 1956. He is very devoted to improving airline safety and saving lives. This is very obvious if you read the laws that he helped pass.
James Oberstar is a congressman from the 8th district in Minnesota. He is the Senior Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Even though he is of a different political party than Congressman Shuster, he still shares similar beliefs. They both are in favor of increased regulations, but Oberstar is more in favor of harsher regulations. He is always proposing amendments to help fund the NTSB. The last major one he attempted was in July of 1996. It asked for 5 million dollars to be given to the NTSB so that they could hire 31 new specialists.
Analysis and Discussion Section
It is tough to say exactly what should be done regarding airline safety regulations. The government should increase the regulations and make penalties harsher. More government funding should be given to the NTSB to increase their range and power. If they could hire more specialists for targeted danger areas, than hopefully, these accidents could be minimized. Also, the NTSB should place tougher regulations on all aspects of airline safety. If this is done, airlines will have to pay more, thus leading to higher ticket prices, but in the long run it is worth it. You can’t put a price on human life, and if more funding isn’t given to see this out, that is exactly what would be happening.
On the other hand, some think differently. The government should not increase funding of the NTSB and not spend tons of money on something that can to completely be prevented. Air travel is still the safest way to go, so if money is going to be used on saving lives, it should first be directed towards something like automobile safety. If regulations are increased than the public is paying for it twice. They have to pay the taxes to fund the NTSB, and then pay the higher ticket prices that the airlines will have to create due to their higher safety expenses. Saving lives is important, however there is only so much that can be done. Even if every airplane suits every regulation perfectly, there will still be accidents. Human error and nature will still cause its fair share of disasters, and wasting money trying to stop nature is just stupid. For the same money, you could save more lives if you attack the safety regulations on other things, like cars. No matter what method that the government chooses to use, people will be angry. It is and will always be a controversial issue.