2002-07-20 / Front Page

NTSB's Blakey To Head FAA

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairperson Marion Blakey who, despite the eyewitness testimony of dozens of Rockaway residents, earlier announced that "there is no evidence of either explosion or fire" on the remains of American Airlines Flight 587, will soon leave that agency to become the head of the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA).

According to one news report, "Blakey appeared at news conferences to reassure an anxious public that evidence showed the (flight 587) accident was not caused by sabotage."

President Bush is expected to nominate Blakey to head the FAA sometime in the coming week.

Many Rockaway residents, however, as recently as last week at a Wave-sponsored eyewitness meeting, accused Blakey and her organization of covering up the real cause of the crash.

In addition, there has been some concern in the Rockaway community that the FAA has not kept its promise that fewer planes departing JFK Airport's runway 31L would over fly inhabited portions of the peninsula. That promise had been made at a January meeting at PS 114, and a new plan that would ensure that planes would fly the "Breezy Track" when departing the airport, particularly during evening hours, has been postponed by the agency a number of times.

While Rockaway residents have problems with both the NTSB and the FAA, not everybody agrees with that point of view.

"They couldn't have picked anybody better," said Representative John Mica of Florida, the chair of the House aviation subcommittee, speaking of Blakey. "She's a tough administrator and she had great credentials."

Blakey, 54, served in the Reagan and George Bush administrations. She is reportedly a close political ally of White House Chief of Staff Andy Card.

Blakey first took the reins of the NTSB on September 26 of last year, after heading her own consulting firm for many years.

She will replace Jane Garvey, whose five-year term will expire on August 4.

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