A retired airline pilot, George Jehn, offers this concise critique of the latest round of A4A propaganda, and specifically the Pinkerton letter at TimesLedger:
“Pinkerton’s article is way off the mark. The airlines have had the ability to fly direct for many years, via the use of things like GPS, OMEGA, INS, etc.**These are all navigation systems used in aviation. INS stands for ‘Inertial Navigation System‘, a major upgrade in air navigation that began to dominate around 1970 … making direct routes common more than four decades ago. It is the airspace problems in the terminal areas that are created by the sheer volume of aircraft taking off and landing that cause the noise problems. And NextGen is not going to solve any of these problems. That is the built-in folly of airline ‘deregulation’. You can only stuff so many planes into a limited amount of airspace and still maintain a safe operation — and the key word is safe.
In recent years, the airlines and the FAA have been shaving the safety margins bit by bit, in many different ways and in many areas. Two examples that most people aren’t even aware of are ETOPS, which stands for Extended Twin Engine Operations. Under FAA’s ETOPS Orders (the original version was adopted in December 1988, and the revised version was adopted in June 2008), FAA allows jets to operate over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans with only two engines. If you recall, it used to be four engines, then three and now two. All of this is done to save fuel and maintenance costs. Prior to ETOPS, engine redundancy was mandatory for safety.
It isn’t a matter of if one of these twins goes into the drink, but when (think of MH 370, a twin-engine 777. What really happened there?). Also, there used to be two-thousand foot mandatory altitude separation above FL 290(twenty nine thousand feet) but now it is has been reduced to one-thousand by the FAA. And these are just two examples. There are many others. Very sad because the public is being hoodwinked by the FAA on many fronts, including noise abatement and flight safety.”
Spot on, George!
As a bit of background, George is a retired Eastern Airlines (and later USAirways) pilot, especially notable for the book he wrote in 2014, ‘Final Destination: Disaster. What Really Happened to Eastern Airlines’.
His book offers a rare insider view at a fatal airline crash in South America, on 1/1/1985, that was never properly investigated or reported by FAA or NTSB officials. Essentially, a cover-up … as does happen sometimes, with aviation ‘incidents’.
George also was a high-ranking pilot union (ALPA) official, and his book points to the serious problem of top union officials becoming ‘joined at the hip’ with agency and airline officials. George is impressive for his knowledge and experience, but even more so for his whistleblower instincts, and his tenacity to expose and reform corruption.
A highly recommended read, if you want to better understand where politics and aviation safety conspire to corrupt.