(WATCH) Flight Safety

From near misses to a mid-air door blowout, there have been notable troubles for air travel. This week, Congress revealed a new, proposed five-year plan of action for the FAA. Lisa Fletcher reports it includes some safety upgrades. 

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

When two or more aircraft are on the same part of a runway or taxiway simultaneously, it’s called an incursion, and it happened more than 1,700 times in the U.S. last year. Each incident a potential disaster — as happened in Tokyo, when a landing passenger plane hit a Japanese coast guard aircraft that had taxied onto the runway at the wrong time. Six people died.

The risks posed by incursions at the top of the list as Congress puts forth a new five-year plan for the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA.

Currently, just 36 major airports have the latest safety systems to stop incursions. They will expand to many more airports, bringing real-time tracking of aircraft on the ground and automated alerts when two aircraft are likely to get too close.

Sharon Pinkerton is senior vice president at the organization Airlines for America, representing the major carriers. She says the FAA’s other urgent challenge is air traffic control.

Lisa: The FAA is staring down a shortage of 3,000 air traffic controllers right now. Where does that fall on your priority list?

Sharon Pinkerton: It is absolutely our top priority to help the FAA and DOT solve what is a critical shortage of air traffic controllers.

The shortage has contributed to delays for many travelers, and in the New York region, it’s so acute, airlines had to cut back on flights.

Pinkerton: They’re only 54% staffed at this New York facility, and that’s just not a good situation. It’s not tenable, and frankly, it hurts the flying public when we offer 10% fewer flights.

The FAA has about 10,700 certified controllers, down 10% since 2012.

The new bill requires the agency to maximize hiring and fill those 3,000 positions.

Another safety-related provision will require cockpit recorders to store 25 hours of data, up from two hours at the moment.

Several incidents triggered the change. Most recently, when a door plug on an Alaska Airlines blew out at 16,000 feet. Investigators could not examine a key part of the flight leading up to the catastrophe because the voice recordings had been overwritten by the time the plane landed safely.

But what about the prospects for travelers who remember all the problems of last year when delays spiked?

Lisa: We’re heading into summer travel, and last year, the DOT had nearly a 70% increase in consumer complaints. What can passengers expect this summer?

Pinkerton: I think that the causes of delay — frankly, the vast majority of delays and cancellations — are a result of weather. But certainly, we’ve seen the air traffic controller shortage impact. And obviously, carriers have things that come up, too, whether it’s a maintenance issue that needs to be addressed or a crew timing out.

Under the new provisions, airlines must offer a refund if a domestic flight is delayed longer than three hours, or six hours for international flights. The refunds are supposed to be paid more quickly and with less hassle.

What passengers won’t get is a limit to how small their seats can be, because there’ll be no minimum size requirement as passenger groups had wanted.

Since the 1980s, passengers have lost between 2 and 5 inches of leg room.

Lisa: I think passengers are going to look at this decision and say that it is not a win for us.

Pinkerton: Well what I would say about that is, seat sizes vary, depending on what carrier you fly. The bill essentially asks the FAA to do something they’ve done before, which is to study this to see if seat sizes are unsafe. And we’ve always said, we’ll do whatever the FAA says is safe, but certainly right now, they have found twice already that our current seat sizes are absolutely safe in case there’s a need for an evacuation.

The seat debate won’t end with the authorization bill. Passenger safety groups argue that shrinking seat sizes increase dangers during emergencies.

For Full Measure, I’m Lisa Fletcher in Washington.

Watch video here.

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7 thoughts on “(WATCH) Flight Safety”


    of course most of us realize that the shortage of personnel was caused by something. We also know that the seats and the toilets in planes are at its narrowest… soon you will have to be super thin to fit in.
    After all the heisa with pilots dying suddenly, having heart attacks, then the rules being loosened, planes losing parts in mid-air, I am not flying anymore. I am surprised so many people have not noticed, or do not care.

  2. Let’s see–a quick dot connect: “Pete Buttigieg (the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana) became secretary of transportation under President Joe Biden.” What are the responsibilities of the Transportation Secretary?
    These three areas are relevant to the Attkisson article: Passenger vehicle safety and standard-Commercial vehicle safety and standards-Aviation safety and standards. Perhaps Buttigieg is ill-qualified or MIA per his duties.

    1. It was a nepotism assignment by a weak & brain dead president.
      Nepootism ?
      The favoring of relatives or personal friends because of their relationship rather than because of their abilities.
      Biden seems to like gays and young girls, is there a connection somewhere I’m missing???
      Just read his daughter’s diary. That says a lot about the guy.

  3. About a year or so ago…

    ..a “heavy” airliner almost landed on a departing Southwest flight, a major error to say the least. The cause.. Affirmative Action with the staffing in the control tower. Clearly a case of government overreach to say the least..

    Sooner of later such practices will lead to a loss of live(s) and who will be brought to account??

  4. Harold and Grumpyone,

    B I N G O !

    America’s Collective I.Q, has been plunging
    from the 1950s forward, because of FORCED
    INTEGRATION of TWO incompatible races.

    Guess which ones.
    (( see Russian Atheist-Bolsheviks’
    – see 1917 thru 1920s –
    P L A N to destroy
    Civil Societies—
    by using FORCED


  5. P.S.

    Re : Fall of America’s collective I.Q.

    Harvard Removes Challenges
    to Students’ Education/Scholarship,
    by Giving Away High Marks :

    Profiling :

    Education in America :

    Thuggish Black Males :

    One in Four are Illiterate :

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