FAA Gives Status Report On Enforcement
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Stepped up monitoring of restricted airspace since a collision over Cerritos killed 82 people last year has led to 109 pilots being cited in three Western states, federal officials said Thursday.
The figures were drawn from five terminal control areas, called TCAs, which are off-limits to aircraft without permission of air traffic controllers, said DeWitte T. Lawson Jr., western Pacific regional counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Thirty-nine pilots were notified of alleged TCA intrusions around Los Angeles, 39 around Las Vegas, Nev., 15 around San Diego, 10 around San Francisco and six around Honolulu since Sept. 1, said Lawson.
He was one of three FAA representatives at a news conference to discuss increased TCA enforcement following the collision of an Aeromexico DC-9 and a small plane over Cerritos last Aug. 31.
″The aviation system in this nation is the safest in the world, and the FAA intends to keep it that way,″ said H.C. McClure, director of the western Pacific region.
As an example, he said, controllers had to offer guidance to aircraft 18,474 times over Southern California on Jan. 24, the day before the Super Bowl in Pasadena.
″All were made safely with no errors,″ McClure said.
″This region is in a stepped-up enforcement mode. This (a TCA intrusion) is a very serious violation, and we plan to turn up the heat on violators,″ he said.
Violators caught in TCAs are notified and given a chance to explain. If the FAA finds them liable, their pilot’s certificate is suspended for a minimum of 60 days. An aggravated offense can bring a 180-day suspension. If evidence suggests the pilot lacks proficiency, he may also be required to undergo tests.
Only two pilots have surrendered their licenses in the 109 intrusions, and the rest remain unresolved, Lawson said. At least seven involved military pilots and those cases will be handled by the Defense Department.
Lawson recommended against criminal prosecution of TCA violators as called for by Los Angeles City Attorney James K. Hahn. He said it would undermine cooperation between pilots and regulating agencies.
″Most TCA violations are inadvertent and lack criminal intent,″ he said.
Besides, he said, Congress hasn’t empowered the FAA to impose criminal penalties, so the FAA assumes Congress doesn’t want such prosecutions.