While it is premature to speculate on any cause of this accident until the National Transportation Safety Board has completed their investigation, I believe it is time to ask what Congress and pertinent federal agencies must do to improve our nation's safety policies as we move forward. I do believe the crash at Lexington has highlighted serious questions regarding air safety in this country, particularly as it relates to air traffic control. On the morning of the Comair crash, there was only one controller in the tower, despite a directive from the Federal Aviation Administration saying that there should be two. The FAA has admitted to violating its own policy.
I am a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee and was able to ask the FAA about controller staffing in a hearing about air safety. I asked if the Lexington tower is properly staffed, and the FAA official at the hearing claims that it is, despite reports to the contrary from controllers at Blue Grass Airport. I also asked the FAA if there had been any disciplinary action taken as a result of the policy violation, but they said they would have to get back to me. Unfortunately, that was the FAA's response to most of my questions.
Despite the hearing being about aviation safety, the FAA was ill-prepared to answer any questions about the Comair accident in Lexington. They couldn't answer specific questions about FAA policy directives, and they couldn't answer questions regarding national staffing levels of air traffic controllers. I am following up with the FAA regarding these unanswered questions, and I will continue to do so until I receive an appropriate explanation.
I think the people of central Kentucky deserve a response from the FAA regarding this tragedy. All I am seeking is answers, in hopes of better understanding how and why this terrible tragedy occurred. And what we can do to prevent accidents, like Comair Flight 5191, from happening in the future.
Despite the loss of the 49 souls on that plane, our nation has the highest aviation safety standards in the world. But that is not much consolation for those affected by the Lexington tragedy. We must always look for ways to improve safety. We must learn from Comair Flight 5191 by asking tough questions. Questions regarding controller staffing should only be the beginning of a series of questions when evaluating whether or not we are doing everything possible to protect the flying public.