Thursday, October 11, 2007

FAA History Lesson -- October 11

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Oct 11, 1983: An Air Illinois commuter flight crashed near Pinckneyville, Ill., killing all ten persons aboard. The National Transportation Safety Board later reported that the accident was caused by the pilot's decision to continue the flight after loss of electrical power from both generators of his Hawker-Siddley 748. As contributory factors, the Safety Board cited inadequate aircrew training and FAA failure to prevent this inadequacy. Following the crash, FAA made changes designed to improve in its inspection procedures and inspector training.

On Dec 2, 1983, FAA announced a special surveillance of Air Illinois, and grounded the airline's two largest aircraft on Dec 14. The next day, Air Illinois voluntarily ceased operations. FAA enforcement activity subsequently resulted in a series of other groundings of commuter and charter air carriers, some as a result of the National Air Transportation Inspection (see Mar 4, 1984). ”

The Airline Deregulation Act was signed in 1978. According to statistics from the Air Transport Association, the were 2 airline bankruptcies in 1979, 4 in 1980, 16 in 1981 and 12 in 1982. Companies near bankruptcy tend to defer maintenance and training (barring any regulatory requirements.)

I think it worth restating (again and again): The Airline Deregulation Act was about deregulating the economic aspects of the air transportation industry. Safety wasn’t deregulated. Supposedly. If you add economic pressure without stepping up regulatory oversight (safety inspections), the results are rather predictable.

Don Brown
October 11, 2007

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