2001-11-17 / Editorial/Opinion

Closing The Barn Door

Closing The Barn Door

Talking about airline safety in the wake of the horrendous jet airliner crash in Rockaway last Monday is a little like closing the barn door after the horse has run. The possibility that a plane could crash onto the peninsula has been in our consciousness for many years. During the Doppler radar fight, we editorialized on that possibility, yet even we did not believe that it would ever happen. Dozens of planes pass over our heads each day. They pass over Bayswater and Arverne, Edgemere and Far Rockaway as well as over Belle Harbor. That has been going on for years, and the fact is that nobody but the environmentalists (who want to close the airport to save the seagulls) and the usual groups that gripped about the noise. Only when the Concorde passed over did anybody look up to see that majestic and noisy bird. Now, everybody looks up. Yesterday, as we stood on Beach 130 Street, watching the conflagration, the only planes in the air were Air Force F-15 Eagles and F-16 Hornets flying high cover over the peninsula. Rockaway has never been as safe from something dropped from the sky as we were at that moment. We will never be as safe again unless the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) moves to change the pattern of flight from Kennedy airport. We would recommend that the planes coming from Kennedy towards the ocean turn right and fly along the bay to Breezy Point and then turn left our over the Atlantic. If they follow that flight path, the planes will not pass over land. Having said that, we understand that we are not experts on flight mechanics and we are not sure that the big jets, the heavies, can make that kind of turn coming off the runway without putting the aircraft and its passengers in danger. The FAA, however, has that expertise. If the barn door is not shut and shut soon, we might lose more than the horse. Is it time for the FAA to act.

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