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By: Douglas Lovell
E-mail Address: dcl@watson.ibm.com

GA Summary of White House Commission

A summary for General Aviation interests of recommendations of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security

Background

On July 25, 1996, President Clinton ordered the formation of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security to examine the safety of Commercial Aviation. Two airline catastrophies -- TWA 800 in New York and ValueJet in Florida --had put the question of airline safety and security very much in the public awareness. The commission released a 71 page final report to the President on February 12, 1997.

Summary

The report contains three chapters and eight appendices. The first two chapters are of most interest to General Aviation (GA) pilots. The rest is largely related to issues of the security of commercial flights against willful terrorist attacks.

Safety

Chapter one is concerned with improving aviation safety. It notes that "While fatality rates in general aviation are higher than in commercial operations, the principal causes of general aviation accidents are similar to commercial aviation accidents. The Commission's recommendations will help address the safety of general aviation as well" (p. 7).

The report sets a goal (1.1, p.8) of reducing the accident rate by five times within ten years. It suggests that the FAA continue to work with NASA, in research and development partnerships with industry to prevent equipment malfunctions, human error, and ensure separation between aircraft.

The report notes (p.11) that 70% of accidents occur due to loss of control or controlled flight into terrain. It asks for more human factors studies of pilots, and for wider application of predictive ground proximity warning systems.

It recommends (1.4, p.10) that the FAA set performance based standards for safety improvement rather than prescribe specific procedural requirements.

Air Traffic Control

Chapter two is concerned with Air Traffic Control. The report recommends rapid modernization of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system, using off-the-shelf equipment as much as possible (p.18).

The report encourages adoption of the Free Flight proposal (p.17) and recommends (2.3, p.21) that the FAA consider upgrades of GA aircraft communications and navigation equipment required by changes in the National Airspace System (NAS). The types of equipment mentioned are, "digital radios, GPS recievers, and automatic dependent surveillance equipment." The report makes no distinction between VFR and IFR equiped GA aircraft.

Disclaimer

This is an unofficial summary written by one interested GA pilot.

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NOTE: Reviews and Opinions do not necessarily represent those of Landings, its personnel and employees.
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