Newspaper Questions FAA’s Air Canada Response
The San Jose Mercury News, one of the first news outlets to report on the story of the Air Canada near-miss in San Francisco last month, said in an editorial this week that the FAA has “hindered the investigation” of the event by “dragging their feet in the aftermath.” As a result, “key evidence from the cockpit voice recorder was erased and the pilots were never tested for drugs or alcohol,” wrote the newspaper’s editorial board. The FAA didn’t notify the NTSB about the incident until more than 24 hours had gone by, the News says, and as a result the CVR was taped over multiple times. However, officials from both agencies said the FARs don’t require the NTSB to be notified at all, since there was no accident. “The FAA has followed all appropriate protocols and procedures since the investigation began and will continue to do so throughout its course,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said in an emailed statement sent to AVweb on Wednesday.
“Safety is the FAA's highest priority and guides us in all we do, including our investigations into incidents such as the one involving Air Canada,” Gregor said. “One reason the U.S. is experiencing the safest period in commercial aviation history is because the FAA, NTSB and airlines are committed to working closely and openly together. We conduct timely investigations into the root causes of events and we implement measures to prevent them from happening again. Our approach is no different in this case, and the FAA continues to work closely with the NTSB on the investigation into the July 7 Air Canada go-around at San Francisco International Airport. As the NTSB notes, the investigation involves a wide variety of resources including interviews with the flight crew, interviews with air traffic personnel, an examination of the aircraft flight data recorder, and reviews of radar data, airport video and airline records. The FAA has followed all appropriate protocols and procedures since the investigation began and will continue to do so throughout its course.”
The Mercury News goes on to say the investigation should have started “immediately.” The editorial also reports that according to the newspaper’s sources, the pilots spent the night in the Bay Area and flew out the next morning on their normally scheduled flight. The NTSB did issue a report on the incident earlier this month, noting that its analysis of the data shows that the Air Canada Airbus A320 descended as low as 59 feet AGL, just above the 55-foot-high tail of a 787 on Taxiway C, before beginning to climb out on its go-around.