Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen made a remarkable acknowledgement in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt prior to Safety Summit. Nolen stated that the public would be surprised by the frequency of near-miss and near-collision incidents that have occurred. This goes beyond those that have been officially reported.
Nolen said that it is still safe to fly and that the concern on the part of officials is due to the fact that they have begun “to see things that we don’t expect to see.”
“We expect every flight to operate as it should and so we’ve had these events over the past few weeks. That gives us a moment to say, ‘Let’s stop. Let’s reflect. Let’s ask ourselves the question: Are we missing anything? Is there anything that we should be doing differently?’ And remind ourselves always that we can never become complacent and never take this incredible safety record for granted.”
In recent times, there have been multiple instances of near-misses on runways and in the air, as well as a series of onboard incidents and physical altercations.
“We’ve seen over this last few months more than you’d expect to see,” Nolen told Holt. “Maybe you have an average of one or two per month…(The FAA) has zero tolerance for unruly behavior. And we will indeed use every tool and every resource at our disposal when someone interferes with a cabin or cockpit crew member.”
“We will go for civil penalties and federal prosecution where warranted. My suggestion to you is to stay home because if you act up in flight, we’re going to come after you,” he added.