Going Direct: NY Senator Schumer Reads Paper, Decides To Slam GA

What he “discovered” and suggested might shock you…but then again…

United States Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY) is worried about airplane accidents, specifically accidents involving small airplanes in New York. In a press release and open letter to the NTSB and FAA, Schumer made the “demand” that the agencies investigate a spate of aircraft accidents that he referred to as an alarming trend, suggesting that further investigation could lead to more answers and “prevent future tragedies.” 

Schumer’s staff identified 18 accidents that took place in New York in 2016 and so far in 2017. The accidents Schumer’s office identified resulted in 12 fatalities, which is 12 too many, we agree.

But Schumer’s open letter betrays a lack of perspective on vehicular safety overall and a glaring lack of knowledge of the ongoing efforts of both the FAA and the NTSB to curb accidents, as well as a clear ignorance of the improvement in safety in general aviation. 

Some of the accidents that Schumer called attention to were barely accidents, and even in the ones that involved injury or death to the occupants of the planes, there were no injuries to anyone on the ground. In several of the accidents, Schumer pointed out that the mishap took place near structures on the ground.

For starters, New York State is very large. It encompasses 55,000 square miles, making it the 27th largest state in the Union and, with around 25 million residents, it’s the third largest state by population. It has the sixth largest number of airports (574) in the country, and is the fourth leading state in terms of flight hours. 

By contrast, in 2011 on Long Island, New York, there were 17 bicycle deaths. So far, Schumer has been mum on these tragedies. In August of 2016, a single accident on the Long Island Expressway killed six people and injured 8 others. In all, more than 1,000 people are killed in motor vehicle accidents in New York every year. Even pedestrians are at greater risk in Schumer’s great state. Every year, around 250 people are killed while walking on sidewalks and roadsides in the state of New York. 

Furthermore, Schumer’s demand that the NTSB and the FAA take notice of these accidents is grandstanding of the lowest kind. Not only is he using the tragedies of hard-working American families to gain political advantage (for no apparent reason, too), but the NTSB and the FAA don’t deserve the abuse. These agencies have worked diligently to track and understand air accidents. Over the past two decades, they have succeeded, in tandem with the hard work of pilots and instructors around the country, in halving the number of fatal accidents our segment has suffered.

Perhaps instead of scolding these organizations and inciting public concern over a well managed area of risk in our transportation network, Schumer would be better off to suggest that other transportation segments emulate our aviation safety organizations in hope of making much needed progress in safeguarding the lives of people involved in less sensationalistic forms of transportation. 

If you want more commentary on all things aviation, go to our Going Direct blog archive.

10 thoughts on “Going Direct: NY Senator Schumer Reads Paper, Decides To Slam GA

  1. A true friend to aviation. First lying to the grieving Colgan families, cramming a ridiculous 1,500 hour pilot rule down our throats, now his investigation into accidents which are at the lowest rate in decades. Balance the budget first senator!

  2. This is why every General Aviation pilot must remain actively engaged to preserve our freedom to fly without undue and burdensome government regulation and oversight. Ignorance is no excuse and Senator Schumer’s staff, as well as the Senator himself, should know better than to draw conclusions without researched facts. Recommend all of us call his office at 202-224-6542. as well as his state office at 914-734-1532, to express our concern about his misinformed views. Silence is consent; don’t give up the airplane!

  3. Great comment, Why don’t you forward your response to the offending party himself. May offer an opportunity to help some of these clowns to participate in thinking, before they speak.

  4. FAA holds air safety seminars regularly at my local airport (Flying W, Medford, NJ) and the meetings are usually packed with pilots, old and young. I am pretty sure every one of those pilots in these seminars feels deeply thankful for FAA’s tireless effort to save lives.

  5. So while I believe that govm’t regulated industries like aviation, basically have too much government involvement, I am interested in what effect Sen Schumer’s request has. Due to limited resources many accidents are relegated to local FSDO oversight and control with the NTSB just filing the report. I have taken an interest in fuel related accidents as we, on the request of Cirrus Aircraft, designed a new fuel quantity system. I am appalled at the level of investigation performed, all fuel related according to both the FAA accidents are pilot error, and the identical rubber stamp of the NTSB for these events confirms nothing in depth is happening. We have interviewed scores of accident pilots who would swear on a stack of bibles and fuel receipts that they initiated flight with sufficient fuel only to run out along the way . When I asked if the investigator looked further than a peak in the fuel tank all indicated that the FAA didn’t have time and that if the pilot wanted to find out where the fuel went it was up to the owner and owner expense to find out. The pilot was going to get a check ride regardless. These examples are not accident investigations but paper processing and I hope a little light on the lack of effort. While I believe Sen Schumer is misguided over an overt concern of death being dealt from above the existing system is not presenting actionable results that can be used to improve safety.

  6. Here, here! I’m a New Yorker and a pilot, and honestly I have no idea where Sen. Schumer is coming from with this, or why. Seriously, he has WAY bigger issues to deal with in our state.

  7. The Senator has a LARGE media presence involving all kinds of “HEADLINES OF PUBLIC CATASTROPHE “

  8. Yes, lets point out to My Schumer the number of traffic fatalities in the country weekly, Maybe 300, Then point out wrongful MEdical deaths in hospitals nationwide recently reported at between 210,000 and $400,000. Why do these political morons always attack GA?

  9. The senator’s comments display a surprisingly absent knowledge of both epidemiology and simple accident statistics. At the very least, he should be commenting on accident rates, not numbers. And as suggested, he should distinguish fatal from non-fatal accidents and compare accidents rates across different modes of transportation.

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