Saturday, February 27, 2021

Opinion: On safety, aviation community needs more communication with public

The North Perry Airport existed long before Pembroke Pines and Miramar did.

Of course, it is now surrounded by homes, offices, schools and stores. It has thousands of more flights now than it did during the 1940s. Besides flight schools, it hosts charter companies, television news helicopters and government agencies.

That means many safety concerns.

It speaks to the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic and other news stories that recent plane crashes in western Broward have been overshadowed.

Since last May, there have been various incidents ranging from emergency landings to crashes in and near North Perry.

Some have had tragic results. Last May, a pilot was killed and an instructor seriously injured when a Piper plane crashed near the Miramar Commons Shopping Center. In November, the pilot of a Lancair Legacy FG was killed when his plane crashed at the airport. A man died on Jan. 15 from injuries he received during a December crash at Cinnamon Place Park in Pembroke Pines.

This isn’t the first time plane crashes around North Perry Airport seem to have occurred in clusters. There was such concern by the early 1990s that a group of residents campaigned for the airport to be closed. At the time, both local and federal studies concluded that closure would put more pressure on Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and Pompano Beach Airpark.

Of course, area population has grown quite a bit since then. So has the need for light planes.

While Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach airports are city-run, North Perry Airport is overseen by Broward County. It is a reliever airport for planes that might otherwise use Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport or Miami International Airport. It’s busy, too, with almost 215,000 uses of its four runways in 2018.

But the Federal Aviation Administration has control over the safety guidelines of light planes and pilots. There are no fewer than four FAA divisions on regional levels to deal with everything from pilot safety to plane safety.

One of the FAA Flight Standards District Offices is located in Miramar. Among its responsibilities are pilot licenses, plane certifications and accident investigations. That office and the county communicate and work closely together, which is good.

But North Perry and the FAA need to improve communication to the general public. A Zoom conference — or a few — in the short term would be a good way to start.

No comments:

Post a Comment