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Schumer: More plane spot safety checks needed after LI crashes

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer discusses aircraft safety Monday,

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer discusses aircraft safety Monday, June 27, 2016, at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale and the drop in FAA spot safety inspections at New York State airports. Credit: Steve Pfost

Safety inspections at New York airports have dropped 73 percent in the past decade, and federal regulators should increase such spot checks after a spate of small airplane accidents on Long Island, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Monday.

There were 2,849 inspections at all New York State airports in 2006, but just 748 in 2015, Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, where a small plane crash-landed a week ago.

The spot inspections, or ramp inspections, are conducted on the tarmac just before takeoff or after landing. They involve a quick inspection of the plane and the paperwork of the pilot by Federal Aviation Administration officials. The agency said it would reply to Schumer directly and would not comment publicly.

“Long Island has been plagued with a series of small airplane crashes, yet despite the rising numbers of plane crashes, the number of airport inspections has fallen,” Schumer said just before a small plane took off behind him.

Schumer released these figures for Long Island airports, but did not have statistics from 2006 for individual airports:

  • Brookhaven Calabro Airport had 13 inspections in 2013, 5 in 2014 and 9 in 2015.
  • Republic Airport had 136 in 2013, 151 in 2014 and 83 in 2015.
  • Calverton Executive Airpark had 4 in 2013, 3 in 2014 and none in 2015.
  • Bayport Aerodrome had none in 2013, 1 in 2014 and none in 2015.
  • Long Island MacArthur Airport had 61 in 2013, 70 in 2014 and 64 in 2015.

A twin-engine plane belonging to Ponderosa Air was badly damaged June 20 when it crash-landed at Republic Airport. The pilot said later its landing gear and a key part of his aircraft’s warning system failed. The two occupants were not hurt.

It was the eighth plane crash or other aircraft accident on Long Island this year.

In all of 2012 there were eight incidents investigated on Long Island, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s database, and in 2010 there were 11, the most in any year since at least 2000.

Final reports on the cause of the incidents have not been filed by the NTSB, but preliminary reports suggest the causes were varied.

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