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Sarlo Seeks Sanctions For Bad Pilots At Teterboro

WOOD RIDGE – Senator Paul A. Sarlo today sought federal sanctions to be imposed on pilots who willfully stray from their designated flight paths and risk mid-air collisions with other jets over the densely populated region of New Jersey near Teterboro Airport.

“It would be appropriate, in my opinion, to revoke flying privileges at Teterboro for pilots, who through their own fault, stray from their designated flight paths,” Senator Sarlo said in a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

Senator Sarlo said recent accounts in The Record cited how at least 30 jets departing Teterboro during an eight-month period last year strayed from flight paths intended to prevent collisions with jets arriving at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport.

“It’s apparent that something has to be done to instill the fear of failure while flying by pilots who admit to being distracted by the Manhattan skyline into making mistakes or hurried by air traffic controllers into ignoring departure instructions,” Senator Sarlo added.

Citing anonymous pilot reports to the Federal Aviation Safety Reporting System, run by NASA, the accounts noted that some pilots strayed off course for thousands of feet to view scenery or by ignoring flight instructions. Despite the 30 incidents cited in the NASA report, the Federal Aviation Administration admitted to citing only two pilots in all of 2004 for straying from their flight paths, the newspaper reported.

“It seems appropriate for the FAA to take a more pro-active stance in response to pilot infractions,” Senator Sarlo said in his letter to the nation’s top transportation official. “If there were more than 200,000 takeoffs and landings at Teterboro last year, it seems hard to believe there were only two pilot infractions that merited FAA citations….”

Senator Sarlo noted that Teterboro pilots have an extremely low margin for error because of its location in one of the most heavily populated regions of an already crowded State.

“Penalties for pilots who jeopardize the safety of those living below them should be commensurate with the dangers they create by their carelessness,” Senator Sarlo wrote.

He noted that the FAA must be aware of the problem at Teterboro because it sent out an e-mail to 155,000 pilots nationwide, warning them about overshooting assigned takeoff altitudes at the facility and urging that closer attention be paid to departure procedures, according to the newspaper.

“… I hope you can respond with some positive actions to curb this threat to our residents by directing the FAA to ban the bad pilots at Teterboro,” Senator Sarlo wrote to Mineta.