July 3, 2005
Over the past several months, a number of accidents have occurred at Teterboro Airport. Considering the airport’s long-term safety record, those incidents are aberrations. However, the surrounding community is understandably concerned about whether recent incidents suggest a systemic problem rather than a statistical anomaly.
The events have prompted some local voices to call for significant reductions in aircraft traffic levels in the belief that this will enhance safety. However, this approach rests on the flawed assumption that activity levels are causally linked to airplane accidents, when the data tell a different story.
Several general aviation airports in the United States handle more traffic than Teterboro, and they are clearly safe. Thus, high aircraft activity levels are not a precursor to, or a cause of, accidents. While the Teterboro incidents are still being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, none seems to have been related to high congestion levels since airport traffic was light when the accidents took place.
Any meaningful consideration of safety improvements must also take into account the measures already adopted or being implemented to ensure safety at Teterboro.
For example, approach and departure patterns are centered on preserving safety in the airspace over the airport. The government regularly checks airport runways, lighting and other equipment for safety. Officials with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plan to place arrestor beds at the end of the runways to stop future aircraft overruns. And, the business aviation community operates under the highest safety standards at Teterboro, in part by using the same pilot-training methods and aircraft-maintenance procedures as those in use at the nation’s large “hub” airports.
Only with insight and a deliberative approach can we enhance safety in and around Teterboro.
President and CEO
National Business Aviation Association