Monday, May 16, 2011

Washington Post on Tornadoes and Airlines, Part II

Friday, I wrote two postings about the FAA, airlines, and tornadoes. You can catch up here. My postings were prompted by the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang posting Part I of their story about the fiasco at Lambert International Airport during the Good Friday tornado of April 22nd. The story pretty well confirms what I wrote about in Warnings

In fact, Campisi says, Delta does not currently transmit tornado warnings to planes on the ground, at least not that he’s aware of.

This about says it all:

Mary Schiavo, an aviation attorney and former inspector general of the Transportation Department, said that unlike advisories for lightning, dissemination of tornado warnings is not mandated. “The airline should have been warning them but I don’t know of any regulation that requires it,” she said.

“It seems like such common sense, I’ve never thought about the fact that there isn’t one. I know about the lightning [one] but not about tornadoes.”

While the airlines deserve their share of the blame, part goes to the FAA.  After dancing around the issue, the FAA stated,

When pressed on whether controllers specifically transmitted the Weather Service’s tornado warning — which warned of a confirmed tornado on the ground and the airport within its path — Molinaro said pilots were told to contact controllers for further details about the weather conditions.

In other words, no they didn't.

You can read about all of the buck-passing in Part II of the story here. Thanks to the Capital Weather Gang and Washington Post for following up on this important safety issue.

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