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NTSB: FAA Needs To Get Aggressive In Enforcing Safety Guidelines

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - The agency investigating a plane crash
last summer that killed 49 people has instructed the Federal
Aviation Administration to more aggressively enforce new safety
recommendations issued after the disaster.
In a response to written questions submitted last month from
U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, the National Transportation Safety Board
said it had found several examples of crews failing to take the
extra steps to cross-check a plane's runway location before
takeoff.
The pilots of Comair Flight 5191 early on Aug. 27 steered the
plane onto an unlit runway at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport that
was too short for a commercial jet to take off. The NTSB issued the
cross-check recommendation last December.
Although the FAA had urged better runway awareness less than a
month after the crash, NTSB said it expressed concern that the
advisory was nonbinding and might not be followed.
"The board found several operators that had not established the
recommended procedures and told the FAA to move beyond providing
advisory information and become more aggressive in affecting change
in this area," NTSB wrote.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency was in the process
of turning the advisory into a mandatory rule for airlines but that
requires going through a governmental approval process that could
take several months.
"Rulemaking generally takes some time," Brown said. "What
we've found is that sharing safety information and putting out
advisory guidance can accomplish many of the safety goals we're
after much more quickly than rulemaking."
Chandler, a Kentucky Democrat who complained about the FAA's lag
in answering his questions, said the answers he received Friday
were insufficient.
"I see this delay as a reflection of the FAA's repeated failure
to promptly and adequately address air safety concerns and a great
disservice to the families of victims of the Comair crash and to
the general public," Chandler said.
The Comair plane clipped trees and a fence before crashing into
a nearby farm. Only the co-pilot survived. There was only one air
traffic controller in the tower that morning, despite an FAA
directive that air and ground responsibilities should be divided
between two people.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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