MORE PLANES OVER OUR HEADS, ONE PER MINUTE? HAVE WE BEEN
STATEMENT of Captain Stanley G. Sanders II.
CREDENTIALS: member of safety committee of a major
airline, 30,000 hours flight time, 23 years flying experience with a major
airline, former navy fighter pilot, currently supplying technical information
to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security.
Date: October 11, 1996
From: Captain Stanley G. Sanders II
To: Paul Lanning, Environmental Management Agency, County
of Orange, Ca.
Subject: MCAS EL TORO COMMUNITY REUSE PLAN (ALTERNATIVE
The MCAS ELTORO Community Reuse Plan proposes that 70%
of the takeoffs would be on runway 7, and 30% would be on runway 34 for
noise abatement purposes.
Since takeoffs on both of these runways would be into
steeply rising mountainous terrain, and generally with a tailwind, this
proposal is marginally safe in the best conditions, and impossible in the
worst conditions. Taking off into mountainous terrain with a tailwind(the
wrong way), is analogous to driving your car the wrong way on a freeway;
over a period of time, fatalities would occur. An airline pilots' first
priority is safety.
It is the responsibility of the pilot in command of the
aircraft to use the safest runway for departure or landing. Considering
that the prevailing winds are from the west through the south 99% of the
time, the safest runways for departure would be runway 25 over Irvine and
Newport Beach, or runway 16 over Laguna Hills , Aliso Viejo, and Laguna
Niguel. Runway 25 or 16 are the safest runways for takeoff with the wind
less than 14 knots from any direction. For arrivals runway 34, over Laguna
Niguel,Aliso Viejo, and Laguna Hills, or runway 7, over Newport Beach,
and Irvine would be the safest runways 99% of the time. Representatives
of the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety
Board, and P & D Consultants, the firm who wrote the Community Reuse
plan, have agreed with this analysis. In fairness to P & D Consultants,
they were asked to determine if it were possible for takeoffs to be made
to the east and northwest, not to determine what would be the safest usage
of the airport.
After discussions with representatives of a major airline
and representatives of all of the airlines unions, I feel confident that
they agree with this analysis. I want the local community to be aware that
99% of all takeoffs will be made on runway 25 or 16 over highly populous
and noise sensitive areas and that neither the airlines nor air traffic
control could or would override the pilot in commands decision to use the
safest runways for takeoff( runways 25 or 16). A decision to use runway
7 for takeoff could be a personal injury attorney's dream come true. In
summary, even if the local community agreed to allow a marginally safe
runway (runway 7 or 34) for takeoff, no competent airline pilot would ever
compromise safety for noise, and that we owe it to ourselves, our families,
and the traveling public to always use the safest runways for departure
and landing. I am on the safety committee of a major airline, and have
served as a Navy fighter pilot in the Vietnam era, and have 23 yrs with
a major airline and have 30,000 hrs of flight time. I am currently supplying
technical information to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety
/s/ Stanley G. Sanders II
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comments by four commercial pilots.