Acting FAA Administrator Addresses Airline Safety In TV Interview


Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen took to the airwaves this evening (March 14) with the challenging mission of reassuring airline passengers that it remains safe to fly, even as U.S. aviation officials have begun “to see things that we don’t expect to see,” a clear reference to a string of close calls involving airliners.

In an NBC News interview ahead of the coming Air Safety Summit, Nolen cited the airline safety record and told reporter Lester Holt, “We expect every flight to operate as it should, and so we’ve had these events over the past few weeks. That gives us a moment to say, ‘Let’s stop. Let’s reflect. Let’s ask ourselves the question: Are we missing anything? Is there anything that we should be doing different?’ And remind ourselves always that we can never become complacent and never take this incredible safety record for granted.”

Nolen also addressed the issue of unruly passengers: He said the FAA position is one of “zero tolerance for unruly behavior. And we will indeed use every tool, every resource at our disposal where someone interferes with a cabin or cockpit crew member … We will go for civil penalties and federal prosecution where warranted. My suggestion to you is to stay home because if you act up in flight, we’re going to come after you.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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      • With respect, I still have reservations about making Mr Nolen administrator. Yes he seems to be as you have remarked, but is still a FAA insider. To me that means nothing will change. Unfortunately I cannot think of another qualified candidate who would be crazy enough to take this job for 5 years.

  1. Thru all these incidents feel like the controllers need a more urgent, direct means of advising (advising vs directing given that the situations have put takeoff aircraft in extremis, meaning PIC has final say on correct action, regardless of ATC direction or advisory). “Takeoff clearance cancelled” seems like a lot of words that don’t necessarily express the urgency well. Something along the lines of “Alert Alert Alert Runway conflict!!” or some other phrase that doesn’t rely on controller voice pitch alone to better convey urgency/extremis.

    • Given the state of traffic and control at larger airports don’t you think Alert, Alert, Alert Runway conflict might be too wordy? I don’t have an answer but I do know how problematic it is sometimes during peak flight hours at major airports.

      However, in your defense I suppose that your suggestion would get everyone’s attention, I know I would immediately stop my AC to take notice.

      • I once squeezed an urgent “Conflict! Traffic rolling on 8” into a rapid-fire comm stream. That certainly got everyone’s attention.

  2. It seems like the only real solution is to fix the problem so that it hopefully never happens again.

    Of course never is impossible, but fixing and improving the system is not impossible and
    is the only solution. If the problem is too much traffic, too few controllers, inadequate equipment or whatever else it might be, it has to be fixed. Sometimes any words are too late to change actions already about to happen.

  3. Yea…. and this same guy pushing bunch of items from the swamp’s agenda. Take care guys, get to see who this guy really is before supporting him. Yes, very smart. For what? He does not full me.