Did Contractor Do Shoddy Work... Or Is This Just
Calling Long Island's
MacArthur Airport "a model of exactly how we should not run our
airports," on Tuesday New York Senator Charles Schumer called for
the FAA to launch a safety audit of the facility.
Newsday reports Schumer's request comes on the heels of recent
safety concerns following -- and, Schumer says, related to -- a
recent $65 million expansion at the busy airport. The senator
claims that expansion was "done so poorly and, quite possibly,
crookedly" that the FAA needs to get involved.
"As a result of the town's poor job managing the airport, safety
has been imperiled, corruption has run rampant and the precious
economic value to the region has been needlessly threatened,"
Schumer wrote in a letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey.
"Therefore, MacArthur is in desperate need of not only a
comprehensive, one-time safety audit, but also careful and
continuous oversight by the FAA."
In particular, Schumer and others at the airport are concerned
with cracking asphalt on airport aprons laid down during an
expansion of the airport two years ago. Cracking in asphalt can
cause chunks of the paving material to break free... which could
then get drawn into an airliner's turbofan engines.
As Aero-News reported in
August, Southwest Airlines sued the paving company,
Pav-Co, for substandard workmanship. The Dallas-based airline,
which is the largest carrier at MacArthur, funded most of the
At the time, a lawyer for Southwest acknowledged the carrier
knew the cracks were "not an emergency... [b]ut we also know that
whatever it is, we're going to want it fixed."
Officials with the city government of Islip, NY -- which
oversees the airport -- declined to comment on Schumer's
accusations. The town referred all questions to the PR firm hired
to promote the airport.
"We would welcome any and all regulatory oversight and we would
cooperate with any and all calls for further examination of how
this airport operates," Rubenstein and Associates spokesman Gary
Schumer's comments have drawn fire from other area business
officials, including the vice chairman of the Long Island Business
Aviation Association, Bill McShane -- who said the apron cracks
were not a public safety issue, and if the airport was unsafe it
would have been shut down already.
Furthermore, some Islip officials hinted Schumer's news
conference -- held in front of the short-term parking structure at
the airport -- was nothing more than political grandstanding... as
the Democratic candidate for Islip supervisor stood alongside
Schumer during the event. The senator also endorsed Phil Nolan in
his three-way race for the position.
Schumer, of course, is no stranger to a microphone when it comes
to aviation safety issues... most recently in the aftermath of October's crash of a
Cirrus SR20 into a Manhattan highrise.
"I do think that every flight should have to fly a flight plan,
every plane should be identified, every plane should not be allowed
in willy-nilly," New York Senator Charles Schumer said in response
to that accident.