The FAA’s Bold Safety Initiative


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  1. Without typing a single word — in total silence — you have concisely described both the problem AND the solution in pictures so that the “less than qualified” at DOT, FAA, NTSB, airlines, unions et al, can clearly understand and remember. GENIUS! THIS is why all of us here think YOU are the best qualified to fill that big, empty chair. (Just remember … I want the Director of Small Aircraft job ๐Ÿ™‚ I can do that remotely, right?).

    Sadly, all the momentum now being put into THIS dog and pony show will likely put MOSAIC behind another year ๐Ÿ™

  2. Paul, โ€œThe Communicatorโ€, able to think on your feet and respond quickly to new information or challenges. You got my vote for FAA Administrator.

  3. Bravo Paul! I particularly love the eagle sitting on the desk! One of the best political cartoons I’ve seen in a long time.

  4. Billy Nolen as interim administrator responds to a safety crisis and in return gets nothing but sarcasm and criticism from every quarter including from Paul Bertorelli. Go look in the mirror Paul if you want to know why there is no administrator and why no one wants the job. You’ll see thousands of people who look just like you in that mirror.

    • Not sure why you think it’s my fault for the FAA not having effective leadership. I am at least drawing attention to the fact. When I put this little cartoon together, I specifically included the EAGLE because anyone familiar with that program will understand that this safety team idea comes from the same place.

      The FAA is an $18 billion-ish federal agency. It’s job is to oversee, assure and regulate safety. Period. It has the statutory authority, it has the resources, it has the expertise and most important, it collects the data. What it lacks is effective leadership. EAGLE is an example of bad government; a noise making machine meant to simulate progress while distracting from the fact that not much is getting done.

      This is similar. The FAA could–and should–do it on its own. In other words, do its job.

      • I ‘got’ your intent … apparently John didn’t, PB. OH … I also ‘caught’ the EAGLE as metaphoric for the larger problem. The Administrator position would be EASY to fill with a qualified aviation pro who would do a good job if only the position wasn’t a political appointee and lasted longer. That they chose Washington — a person with no aviation experience and a dubious personal history — is reflective of the problem. You nailed it with your silent cartoon.

        John is confusing the clamor of all of our frustration for ongoing lack of leadership at the top of the FAA team using sarcasm as the tool. Even hard working FAA types I know feel that way. We could extrapolate the problem to darn near every Federal bureacracy, too, starting with the Administrator’s appointed boss.

  5. As much as I like Billy Nolen, it appears that he is being managed by a political ‘damage control’ team. Regrettably, this reflects poorly on the ‘Safety Initiative’. The failed FAA Administrator nominee’s push has left a strong vortex.

    • Raf have you ever sat in on any safety presentations given by Robert Sumwalt? He and other people on this panel contributed effectively over the period of a decade at free multi day OEM sponsored safety awareness and action events. I can’t think of a less accurate description of Robert Sumwalt than naming him part of a “political damage control team”. There were other names on this safety panel as well who also contributed effectively to safety at these events during those years.

      I understand we’re all less that satisfied with FAA performance these days, and that includes me currently and personally. I have a personal stake in the deployment of MOSIAC and am not happy with the delays. But when something positive especially regarding industry wide safety promotion is initiated it would seem to be in all of our best interests to give it a chance to succeed before crucifying it. This panel was just put together and folks are already calling them names as though doing so is a new found sport, which unfortunately it is.

      • The Safety Team comprises reputable individuals and is well-rounded. I respect all. Additionally, I believe in aviation safety and transparent regulation. However, the forming of these committees should be based on their necessity rather than any perceived political maneuvering. It appears to me that the group was created for political or damage control reasons, which raises doubts about its purpose and integrity.

        • Raf I respect your opinions in these comment sections. But in this case I know at least one person on this panel professionally enough to believe his BS detector works well and that he would not engage with this panel if he suspected political damage control reasons were their clandestine agenda.

          • Time’ll tell, won’t it? With the current leadership at DOT, few of us see anything positive or proactive coming out of this endeavor. I think you’re conflating the abilities and capabilities of individual selected members with the purpose for or the ultimate product of this “Initiative.”

  6. Aviation “safety ” is only as good as the least capable person involved in a flight, not the FAA.

    • Sometimes the reason a person becomes the “least capable” is due to artificial external factors, like pilots actively avoiding going to a doctor for preemptive treatment when they know it will lead to unnecessary non-medically-indicated tests or procedures due to antiquated FAA medical requirements. So in that sense, there are some things the FAA can do to improve safety, by effectively getting out of the way. But somehow I don’t expect this to be one of the recommendations they come up with from this “safety review team”.

      • … and the best example of ‘they should get out of the way’ is the colgan 1500 hr rule. We’re short of pilots as a result of it, they KNOW there’s an issue there but won’t retract the nutty rule. How’s about if we say that — like appointing an Administrator nominee with no experience. we let people with no pilot experience fly our airliners. Just as nutty. There’s a happy medium there … and it isn’t appointing still another ‘panel’ of experts ๐Ÿ™ .

  7. To: John Kliewer

    The idea of approaching politicians and situations with a critical eye is a fundamental aspect of responsible and informed citizenship, and it is often advocated by political scientists and journalists. There are many such experts who study politics and government. For example, Paul Bertorelli is a journalist and an expert in aeronautics. His journalistic satire on “The FAAโ€™s Bold Safety Initiative” effectively conveys to the public the ongoing conflict.

    • … and that IS the job of the mass media, Raf !! Unfortunately, it ain’t always the way it is these days. PB exposed the problem for what it is. Sarcasm IS a method of criticizing. It’s just that he is SO good a it.

    • Thanks kindly for the lectures in the press and informed citizenship guys. I actually do know the function of a free press and believe in it. I lived in a country without one for 25 years and survived 8 years of professional flying there. I can also distinguish between reporting of news and commentary. As is his right, Paul was not reporting the news in this piece, he was voicing opinion. During an era in which cynicism is in vogue and sells, cynicism has now become trite. Regarding a group formed to address an over abundance of aviation safety excursions during the past year, I expected more than cynical commentary and already popular speculation about political intentions and ulterior motives.

  8. Great comments! The standard reaction to a perceived “problem” by government is (wait for it–wait) MORE GOVERNMENT!

    Government always feels they need to “do something”–and the FAA is the”poster boy” for that thinking. There are approximately 204,000 aircraft registered in the United States (but many of them are not active) and 48,000 FAA employees–or 1 employee per 4.25 aircraft (and that doesn’t include NTSB, DOT, or State “alphabet regulators”. Yet despite decades of “trying”, they still feel the need for “MORE SUPERVISION.”

    As usual, the best parody of ineffective government can be found in “Blazing Saddles”

    “We’ve got to protect our phoney-baloney jobs! Harumph!

    • Interpretation: If it is a government of the people, by the people, for the people, then what we have here is the wrong people.

    • Interpretation: If it is a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and stuff does not jive, then what we have here is the wrong people.

  9. Considering the millions of flight operations that take place each year, it is safe, safe, safe, like way safer than anything else that operates with such tight requirements as any aviation action. Now, one incursion and especially one collision is certainly one of each too many. But, one makes the headlines for weeks. And we tend to think the sky is then falling. It’s just not doing that. We can always wish to get even safer. But going from 99.99% safe to 100% will always be hard to achieve when humans are involved. Every one of us will make a mistake, maybe a big one at sometime in our career, pilot or controller. Because of the big sky theory and so much other redundancy, it is hopefully only a “oops” and not a “f##k.. ah s##t”. But…nothing wrong with looking it over again…and again…and again.