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Schumer urges FAA to probe spate of LI small plane crashes

Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks in Syosset on May

Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks in Syosset on May 23, 2016, near the site where a small plane crashed two weeks prior. Credit: Steve Pfost

Sen. Chuck Schumer urged federal aviation officials Monday to conduct a deeper investigation after “an alarming uptick” in small-plane crashes and other aircraft accidents on Long Island.

“This is Long Island. It is not the Bermuda Triangle,” the New York Democrat said at a news conference in Syosset, site of a fatal plane crash earlier this month.

Schumer said the Federal Aviation Administration should conduct an “in-depth” investigation to see whether there is a trend. The investigation would be in addition to the normal review done by the National Transportation Safety Board.

“When you have seven crashes in less than five months you have to start asking some deeper questions, and the FAA needs to take an in-depth and broad-based look at this situation to find out if there is a pattern of lax safety leading to these tragedies,” he said.

Schumer made the announcement in front of Berry Hill Elementary School on Cold Spring Road in Syosset, not far from the spot where a Beechcraft V35B Bonanza crashed on May 3, killing three people aboard.

There have been seven small-plane crashes on Long Island so far this year, the senator said, citing statistics in Monday’s Newsday. There were five small plane crashes in all of 2015, six small plane crashes in all of 2014, and four small plane crashes in all of 2013 on Long Island, he said.

He said there might be changes in wind or weather patterns that affect safety, or changes in the industry.

“One of the problems may be that the individual pilots don’t have enough training, or training lapses, they haven’t flown in 10 years and then they fly again. These are the things we want the FAA to look into,” Schumer said.

NTSB officials have told Newsday that they had looked at the recent Long Island accidents, “but nothing has jumped out at our investigators as a common theme.”

The FAA did not comment.

The NTSB said in a statement Monday that, “We are congressionally mandated to investigate every aviation accident. If, during the course of our investigations, we see any negative safety trends we have the ability to issue urgent recommendations or conduct safety studies.”

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