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This is the only way to fly a five part series of programs examining the safety of America's air transport system produced by station WABE Ethyl in Buffalo New York for a national educational radio. How safe is safe. A question without a truly satisfying answer. Especially true in the aviation industry where operations are conducted in what is after all an inherently foreign environment. Some have gone so far as to say that if man was meant to fly he'd have wings. The question of course 64 years after the Wright brothers first powered flight is not man's right to fly. What is safety in doing so when millions of persons and trust themselves and their families to the safety of the airlines each year hoping that they are reportedly friendly skies of this airliner that will look with favor upon this particular flight into the wild blue if no other. The fact of aeronautical life in the mid sixties give the airline passenger a little to worry about. These facts are that in 1065 the last year for which complete figures are available nearly 84 and a half million persons boarded the aircraft of the US scheduled airlines in domestic
service 205 of these persons failed to return from their flights. Statistically the National Transportation Safety Board informs us this works out to point 3 8 fatalities per 100 million passenger miles in that same year 1965 two point four persons were killed per 100 million passenger miles on the highways according to the statistics then it was six times more dangerous to drive to your summer vacation spot than it would have been to fly there. Government officials industry spokesmen and the like constantly assure us that we have a safe air transport system. This series attempts to explore this system. The Federal Aviation Administration now a part of the new cabinet level Department of Transportation stresses two reasons for the safety of the airlines. Number one is just plain hard work. Sixty four years of flight have taught the industry many hard lessons and the rapid increase in technological know how in this century has provided the tools by which the industry was able to grow. The second reason is professionalism. Every aspect of your flight has the
hand of the professional in it from pilot to traffic controller to mechanic and on down the line. The current operations of the FAA cover every aspect of the typical airline flight. It's not a safe system we're told because it has happened to grow that way. It's a safe system because the resources of the federal government and the skills of many persons have made it safe and they're continuing this task. Over the period of several months extensive interviews were conducted with officials of the federal regulatory and supervisory agencies and research was undertaken into the area of flight safety. The answers we have found will in some cases be dealt with individually. Future programs will deal with FAA s national aviation facilities experimental center at Atlantic City New Jersey with the operations of one of the busiest air traffic control facilities in the world located at Ronkonkoma New York and with the work of the aviation medical division in aero medical research to begin the series however let's get some idea of the nature of the agencies involved in making airline travel a safe operation for the purposes of this program it's important to note that the FAA is
subdivided into seven regions and a great deal of the preparation for these programs was done at Eastern Region Headquarters located at Kennedy International Airport in New York. This office is responsible for FAA activities within its boundaries which encompass the 15 northeastern states the regional office is divided into several operating divisions including flight standards aviation medical Airways facilities and air traffic. The most comprehensive of the divisions in terms of the scope of its supervision of aviation activities is the flight standards division. This division enforces the flight standards published in the federal air regulations which are determined by the Flight Standards Service in Washington to get an idea of the operation of this division. I spoke with Jack Barron's chief of the Flight Standards Division for the eastern region. We break it down into what might be termed five branches systemwide in this new analysis that the engineering manufacturing branch of the aircraft manufacturing management branch and a
maintenance branch and then the operations branch. Do you suppose you might go into the the functions of those branches individually for us. Yes why don't I start out with a system within this analysis STAFF OK which I must mention. This really is a new concept of what might be termed auditing of aviation. This agency in past years checked each and every bit of hardware that was flown by the airlines or by General General Aviation operators. Practices. Are now becoming quite a bit more sophisticated and I find that the introduction of this what we term a SWAT team system weighs in this analysis that provides us with the same input and surveillance possibilities that would have existed under the old system.
Roughly our inspectors proceed to an A-line operation start at the very top level of management and progress down the lines. The channels of communication and managerial direction to the aircraft itself they follow each and every operation that the airline performs. They check the training of the individuals mechanics pilots dispatchers navigators and so forth that's associated with the airline check each and every process that implements the flight of the Act craft and in general become as knowledgeable as the air carrier people themselves in the performance of the their function meaning a SWAT team. OK how about the engineering and manufacturing. I think all of us are acquainted with
the concept of engineering and manufacturing. It's probably one of the oldest branches that the agency has and federal government has leaned on it heavily throughout the years in concept. They perform the surveillance activity setting up design criteria and the checking of the finished product all at craft and its all related components. They eat through the chief will fly with the manufacturer in the testing of the aircraft. The compliance to the to the standards by check by our inspectors at factory level. We called Easy factory inspectors out Amdo inspectors engineer manufacturing district office inspected the gentleman proceed to these manufacturers plant
and checked each component of the aircraft during its assembly and the manufacturer's control of its processing of the component parts through subsidiary manufacturers or what we term prime manufacture meaning the manufacturer himself of the aircraft industry was under much stricter control than say the automobile industry right from the very start from the inception of the plan right on through flight testing and final. Sort of a cation of the aircraft. That's true although I don't know the extent now of the federal government intends to go in the surveillance of the activities of the chairman of the one bail industry. The testing program. It is true then that that the FAA test program along with the manufacturer includes taking for instance wing structures and so on to breaking point to determine
the structural characteristics and the strength characteristics of the airframe. Yes the next branch that we have is a. Aircraft management branch and this branch concerned itself primarily with the monitoring of the airways. Actually it's a group of pilots and Amman. Mechanics have tied as well as airplanes designed primarily with the prime mission proceeding from point A to Point B to record establish and check the criteria necessary for the radio if you want term in layman's language or facilities that make up the airway system such as the ranges ADF of holding fixed points are
distant measuring equipment on many sundry items which make up by way system. Their job primarily is to just do that. Let me give you a typical example. Assume for a moment that your hometown a new radio new airport was developed. It would be requested that this airport be cited by electronic equipment which would assist in the orientation navigation and ultimate landing of the aircraft. This then would be installed by other branches of the agency but the monitoring the accuracy the checking of its capabilities would be the prime responsibility
of the aircraft management branch to ensure that all standards had been conform to. Affectively our pilot would climb aboard the aircraft. He would proceed from some destination to your rapport with the use of navigational aids. These are instruments that are calibrated at a finite degree to ensure the detection of minor and accuracies which may not be apparent in the every day conventional aircraft. The pilot would use his skilled judgment plus the input from electronics devices to check these accuracy. The flying public then can safely assume that the FAA checks on the operation of the radio navigation system. Very honestly that is not the case. Yes the flying public I believe as you
can be assured that the best navigation system in the world is at his disposal and that when the aircraft that he flies follows He's alway's that it's with the safest and highest degree of technical skills possible in a school in the world. The maintenance branch some people have associated maintenance brains with strictly nuts and bolts and of course this is far from their function in my present time. For instance they have to prescribe standards relating to the examination so I have occasion and surveillance of all categories of Maine and salmon. These are the airplane and Pa plant mechanics. The parachute Reg and others of this nature. These men are
tested to ensure their competency prior to being allowed to engage in these in this august so to speak. This test amounts to a theoretical and practical demonstration of their abilities. Now the function of the maiden's branch is to check the recurrence rate of occasion and continued in a way the use of the carrier and general aviation aircraft. This is to ensure that the original standards that the aircraft met I maintain to its out of its useful life. A similar program that most of us have made it with an effort on the part of some of the states to ensure that periodically with the COT we drive must be re-examined and meet a set of standards.
This is comparable except fall less stringent than our requirement. Perhaps you might go into that a little bit further how often are for instance airline aircraft checked and how are they checked. Well airline aircraft. I don't want to seem to get too technical for you but what it amounts to here is each and every component may have a different inspection in life. But the amount of bacteria in conjunction with the agency and with the airlines usually sits down and comes up with what we time. Maintenance inspection schedule. This in turn is placed into a manual which is for all practical effects. The low are. Associated with the operation of this particular piece of equipment. This manual prescribes to see inspections. The Times and where and who should do the. Checking of this.
These are scheduled and the maintenance performed at the stated times prescribed by the manual. Now it varies a little bit. In general aviation fleet where the private owner of an aircraft not for hire must have his airplane inspected only once a year. That is read by regulation. We're hopeful that he looks at it more frequently. Another of the more unsavory from the public's point of view especially if you happen to be the recipient of one of our investigations. Into violation investigation and reporting occasionally issues and everything else in life. We have people who deviate from an inmate and stand in and become the responsibility of this
branch then and our inspectors related to bring this to the attention of the violator and take some type of corrective action. It's obvious. That these violations cannot go unnoticed as they might have an impact. On the safety of the aircraft. The FAA that has legal authority to impose some fines or some such penalty on a violator. Yes it does have that. And we have exercised that although we hope that our programs are more designed to be educational rather than punitive. But we haven't hesitated to use what was whatever means was necessary to achieve accomplishment. You mentioned mechanics. You call them. Maintenance airmen. I believe is that a term for them. It's significant to note that I imagine it's significant for the public to know that. The
concept of an aviation mechanic is considerably different from the automobile mechanic. Yes there is a difference. I myself going through high school worked in a gas station and it meant $2 more a week to be indemnified as a mechanic. I soon became a mechanic and inversely when I came went into the aviation business. I had to spend an apprenticeship approximately two years prior to being allowed to take the test which amounted at that time and still does to a written examination and oral examination and a practical examination. Before I was being allowed to work on aircraft for hire. And what we termed in that time mechanics signing off aircraft meaning having the final responsibility for assuring say whether
this flight standards division then in this in this case the maintenance branch would be the people you read about. After a while some months after an aviation accident where it's been determined that it was some sort of mechanical failure that it is this division that would issue an airworthiness directive for some repair on existing aircraft and change in manufacture on those to be made. Yes with one exception. Hopefully it's not some months after an accident as you have indicated but rather as immediately immediately as could be determined the possible cause and very serious cases of this nature would it be this division that would ground a particular type aircraft. Yes it would be the division as a opposed to the branch I went out talking about the air when these directives the result of a division rather than Branch
determination. Have the last of the branches like to talk to and happens to be the branch that I've spent most of my time in the operations branch. Very similar to the maintenance branch this branch is charged with the examination so advocation and surveillance of all categories of flight operations. I am an amateur related examiner and air agencies. Let me start backwards on it for you. I haven't spoken very much about their agencies. I'd like to take a second to tell you what I would feel about that most people associate air agencies with approved schools. And this happens to be the majority of them. These approved schools. Are designed primarily to
insure a finished product which as a professional I am and. The standards for the schools are prescribed. By the agency. The instructors at the schools must meet. A Ground Instructor advocation requirement that we have. And the flight schools must be. Designed to assure that the minimum standards ship met these minimum standards I prescribe to federal air regulations. I merely mention that all phase of Amman must meet these standards and they are quite numerous from the student pilot to the airline transport pilot. But the associated Amman navigated flight engineers radio operators and so forth they schools.
Located throughout the country but are under the direct control of the owner of the school. The cooperation of individuals. Our inspectors monitor the curriculum and the actual instruction of the student. It's enrolled in these approved schools at the conclusion of the course and after graduation from the school. They are tested either flight or ground or both. Assuming for a moment that the flight that it's a pilot we're talking about again an oral examination written examination and flight test examination
depending upon the type just how thorough. The examination would be. It's given by our inspector to the applicant successful passing of this one as yours and the issuance of a certificate for the particular grade of. Name and ship involved be it private commercial flight instructor and so forth. Is this proficiency once the pilot has his license with the proficiency checked periodically you are allowed to go his own way. Yes and again it varies upon the greatest. If it gets the airline transport pilot employed by a airline we would subject him to a six month check each six months in essence what twice a year. He would be required to read demonstrate his competency to a
prescribed set of standards. This must be accomplished to the satisfaction of our inspector. Additionally the same airline transport pilot. Would Meet company requirements and would be line checked during some portion of the year. What would be the result for instance of an airline pilot failing one of these regular proficiency checks. What happens to the pilot. The ultimate being he could lose his job and a certificate. But what generally happens is we detect a trend. Prior to this action and by going back to the AM mind training school. Conducted gently by the company
regain proficiency as if it's just an example. I just saw an example of having deteriorated because of the passing of time so far. In some of the emergency maneuvers. The pilot does not have too much of an opportunity to practice. Thankfully during my operation and converse we may need some additional practice to perform them to our satisfaction. It's that type of situation in which retraining would help these emergency maneuvers that are practiced by a lot of pilots that don't know what to do if and when such a situation comes up. And if that's correct they do so in actual aircraft or in simulators or. They do it in both. The maneuvers. Are generally performed in the aircraft. Perhaps then you could sum up the flight standard flight
standards division within the safety framework for us. In essence then what. What does the Flight Standards Division do and what does the public have to reassure itself that it's getting on an aircraft that is safe. What I've been trying to say in a nutshell is simply that an aircraft from its very inception its manufacture and shoot and during it use a life during its whole flying career as a matter of fact is monitored by the flights in a division the aircraft is constructed to a set of standards prescribed by the agency that is flown by pilots who meet a standard standard of performance and flight tested constantly to assure the standard to do ation of the stand and they are monitored during their flying career.
The aircraft itself. It maintained to a sanity by a group of mechanics who then that they themselves I listened and sure a standard of competency. The routes flown by the aircraft are constantly monitored by our craft and pilots in the aircraft management branch as I indicated before. I don't know any comparable business where. The monitoring is to such a degree to ensure that you as a passenger in an aircraft or as a pilot can feel as
free from worry as the anchor of business. I think we recognized long ago that to sell people on flying to promote forced to develop which was one of the Congress's edict of the agency that safety had to be of paramount importance where ever mindful of that job by Congress it's a full time responsibility. It's a full time occupation. And to many of us it's more than that it's life. Jack Barron's chief of the flight standards division for FAA s eastern region. On our next program a look at the operations of the national aviation facilities experimental center. The only way to fly was produced by station WABE after all the educational radio service of the State University of New York at Buffalo. The producer wishes to give
special thanks to Robert Fulton and Frank Buckley c of the FAA s eastern region Office of Public Affairs. This is Ed Baron speaking for any our the national educational radio network.
The only way to fly
Episode Number
1 Of 5
Producing Organization
WBFO (Radio station : Buffalo, N.Y.)
State University of New York at Buffalo
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
Series about the safety aspects of commercial airlines. Host: Edward Baron of WBFO. This prog.: Regulations and standards in the airline industry. A.J. Behrens of the Flight Standards Division, Federal Aviation Administration.
Consumer Affairs and Advocacy
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Producing Organization: WBFO (Radio station : Buffalo, N.Y.)
Producing Organization: State University of New York at Buffalo
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-19-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:38
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Chicago: “The only way to fly; 1 Of 5,” 1968-05-19, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 21, 2024,
MLA: “The only way to fly; 1 Of 5.” 1968-05-19. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 21, 2024. <>.
APA: The only way to fly; 1 Of 5. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from