Airline Woes Prove GA Worth


Plenty of general aviation pilots here at Sun ‘n Fun are doubtless very pleased to know they will be flying home when the show is over in their very own airplane — instead of counting on airlines like American, which this week left more than a quarter million passengers stranded at airports across the country. And it’s not over yet. The airline said it had “no choice” but to ground 300 MD-80 jets, almost half of its fleet, after FAA checks found that Airworthiness Directives that required a wiring inspection had not been completed. The incident, along with a similar one recently at Southwest, has been called a “wake-up” call for both the industry and the regulators, who are widely perceived as having a too-cozy relationship. “The airlines and FAA have spent too much time talking about how safe the system is without trying to ensure the continued safety,” James Hall, former chairman of the NTSB, told Bloomberg News. “This is kind of a spanking, and that’s certainly better than an accident.”

Several other airlines that fly the MD-80s or variants have also been affected, though less dramatically. Alaska Air, Midwest, and Delta airlines all cancelled some flights. Thursday evening, American had about half of its grounded aircraft back in service.