Too many times the local newspaper or TV station routinely sensationalize a story about aviation accidents. When the local entities come out to state their opposition to the airport after an accident occurs, the media often report the controversy but just as often never say anything about the merits of the case. This week, an unusual thing happened.
At Sikorsky Airport in Bridgeport, CT a Piper Saratoga clipped the top of a blast fence on approach to landing. The impact ripped off part of a wing and the wreckage slid onto the runway. Both the pilot and his wife were injured.
For years the city, the airport and the FAA have wanted to remove the blast fence and install a runway safety zone with a special collapsible surface that would stop an aircraft that was overrunning and remove the fence hazard to both arriving and departing flight. Connecticut Post – Online offered this editorial:
“Since no one was killed this time, it’s fine that bickering over removal of that fence and replacing it with a safety zone can drone on for a few more years. Urgency will come, apparently, when the next pilot or passenger is actually incinerated in a wreck on the fence — as happened in 1994 when a plane crashed into the fence and eight people died in the ensuing inferno.
That this fence stands is simply shameful. That the Federal Aviation Administration has not taken control of the situation is shameful. That critics fight against safety by misrepresenting creation of a safety zone as “expansion” of the airport is most shameful of all.
What has been proposed is replacing the lethal metal fence with a stretch of EMAS — the acronym standing for engineered materials arrestor system — which is material that would crumble under the weight of an airplane, bringing the plane to a halt with little risk to humans and the plane. It adds not one inch to the length of the runway, hence the “expansion” accusation is a false one.
Putting an EMAS zone at the end of the runway in question at Sikorsky would require rerouting Stratford’s Main Street. Rerouting Main Street would indeed be a substantial project. Nowhere near as substantial, though, as burying the victims of the next crash into the lethal fence.”
This is the 4th accident involving the fence in 17 years according according to Reporter Tim Loh writing the day before the editorial appeared, ” …Opponents, however, have blocked that plan for years by raising environmental concerns about the surrounding area and by stoking fears that such a remodeling would attract larger, louder planes to the airport.
The runway, meanwhile, has not been upgraded since 1982. And though it is deemed safe, it no longer complies with FAA standards. Bridgeport and Sikorsky officials maintain that the safety upgrade would not lengthen the runway by an inch…..”
Bravo for Reporter Loh and the Connecticut Post for telling the truth! Mark Twain said, “Always tell the truth because it will amaze your friends and confound your enemies.” I am amazed and most appreciative!