22 December 2008

FAA, reading comprehension, ministers and all that crapola

As if the latest developments on Gaza borders and upcoming elections are not enough to keep us occupied, here comes an unwelcome, albeit expected news on a completely different subject:

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today changed Israel’s aviation safety standard rating to Category 2 following an assessment made last July of the country’s civil aviation authority.
The long and the short of this means: when you are on a plane getting close to the Israeli airspace, you shouldn't be worried too much by a bearded guy in the next row with a suspicious bulge around his waist and a mad gleam in his eyes. I recon he is just a fatso with fear of flying syndrome. You should start worrying instead about an intrepid jet jockey from IAF or a tired pilot of another passenger plane getting mixed up by a garbled instruction from an (undertrained and overworked) air traffic controller and slamming into your plane, making your landing swifter than expected, although a bit harder.

If it is a consolation, though, you shouldn't be worried more than if your plane were approaching a Ukrainian, Bulgarian or any 3rd world country's airport.

Unfortunately, even if this clumsy attempt to console you worked, it wouldn't work for the Israeli airlines, especially El-Al, because for them it means:
As a consequence of the announcement, Israeli airlines' flights to the United States will be limited, meaning there will be no additional flights to the U.S and no option for other aircrafts to be added. Moreover, supervision on air traffic and the activity of Israeli airlines in the U.S will be increased.
And El AL really neither deserves this nor needs this, since their own safety record is quite fine. Israeli airlines are, quite rightly, indignantly pointing the accusing finger at our government, chiefly at the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Finance, whose joint effort in mismanagement, stupidity and sloth prevented a swift solution to the issue that was brewing for several years.

To remind you all - the current Minister of Transport, Shaul Mofaz, was recently vying other politicos for the post of Kadima party leader. Oh well...

On a related subject of reading comprehension: there is a professionally looking blog, calls itself DWS Aviation that dedicated a long and detailed article on the subject. Unfortunately, the author got two confusing English words: "safety" and "security" mixed. No, Ben Gurion airport is not suffering from lack of security - the opposite, if anything, is true: I am more worried about where I put my passport or other security-related paperwork and whether my underwear is clean, just in case of a sudden advent of a cavity search, than about a terrorist sneaking through the cordons.

Anyways, Haaretz' journalist, Zohar Blumenkrantz, fell into the same trap - "safety" and "security" are liberally mixed in the article. Ynet, on the other hand, got it right, even to the point of explaining the difference between the two words:
The rating, given by the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, is not related to security issues, but rather to standard safety items.
(They didn't explain what does "standard safety" mean and how it differs from sub-standard one, but one can guess, methinks). Just to be on the safety side, here is a direct quote from the FAA press-release, linked above:
The rating is not related to security issues.
Yep. Anyway, have a nice and secure flight, folks...

P.S. Jerusalem Post didn't react yet to this news. The only thing my searches of their site brought up was an article from 2007 about a Jooish captain of an aircraft carrier. Nice guy, an ex-pilot himself and commands a mountain of high-tech machinery and a lot of people. Means that sons of Israel can do wonders somewhere else, but are unable to fix a tiny airport?