2002-02-09 / Front Page

Call For House Hearing On Airbus, Flight 587

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

Two Hispanic lawmakers have called for a House of Representatives hearing on the safety of the Airbus A300 and the crash of flight 587 into Belle Harbor last November.

Representatives Nydia Velazquez and Jose Serrano have requested that the House Transportation Committee schedule the hearing. In a letter to the chairman of the committee, the representatives said that the Airbus A300 had a history of problems with its rudder, something that was reported in last week's Wave.

"Surely, the unusual circumstances surrounding the crash of flight 587 and the 20 years of serious safety complaints merit a thorough investigation into the Airbus and its safety record," the representative's letter said.

"There are so many questions about why flight 587 plunged into the Rockaway section of Queens last November," they added. "We believe that the track record of the Airbus 300 warrants closer scrutiny."

According to Velazquez, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued 600 "airworthiness directives"
pertaining to the Airbus over the past 20 years. Such directives are sent to Airlines to tell them of problems with the aircraft.

In both 1990 and in 1997, the FAA ordered inspections of the rudder to detect problems, according to the two lawmakers.

"Now, we want answers as to why the plane crashed in Rockaway. We have requested this hearing to restore the public's confidence in flying and to ground these planes, if necessary," the lawmakers add. " We don't want any more lives to be lost to this plane."

Representative Anthony Weiner, who represents Rockaway, is not sure that this is the time for congressional hearings.

"Hearings are always helpful," Weiner told The Wave, "but my inclination is to wait and hear what the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has to say. We have never had a crash of the A300 Airbus that was attributable to the tail section."

"My concern," he adds, "is that there be a rational process. I want to hear what the NTSB has to say, not add conjecture to conjecture."

According to FAA sources, only two U.S. airlines currently fly the Airbus 300. Fedex uses the plane on its cargo routes while American Airlines has 34 of the aircraft that it uses on flights between the northern section of the United States and several Caribbean nations.


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