November 6, 2013

all aboard the panopticopter

— cwage @ 5:52 am

The headline of a Newschannel5 article by Adam Ghassemi on the recent Cessna crash at BNA caught my eye this evening: Nashville Crash Highlights Aviation Security Loophole. I had read a bit about the incident, and while it certainly seemed to be an unusual case, I wasn't aware of any loophole, so I read the article. What I expected to be a mundane/fluff update on the crash with a hastily chosen headline was actually an article rife with further odd attempts to imply that this crash was some sort of regulatory failure:

It may seem like a huge security breach, but experts said it's actually common.

"If you choose to be off-grid and not tell anyone where you are it's actually quite easy to fly undetected through the United States," [former U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General] Schiavo said.

"A lot of people find it surprising that it's so easy to move through the airspace in the United States literally undetected," she said.

I found myself wanting to intersperse wikipedia-style [citation needed] tags throughout the article. It may seem like a huge security breach to whom, exactly? A lot of people find it surprising that you can move through airspace in the US undetected? Who? Are these same people surprised to learn that you can move on the ground undetected as well?

To end the article with an unsubstantiated (?) laundry list of supposed criminal charges the pilot (and I quote) "could" have in his history is extremely shoddy journalism, at least, and at worst, a bizarre attempt to rope in a final "won't somebody please think of the children" type plea for regulatory intervention.

What "loophole" was revealed here? A loophole in what system? Not every accident requires a knee-jerk regulatory response -- and I find the casual implication in this article that a regulatory response is a foregone conclusion to be kindof creepy. All things considered, small-craft aviation in this country is a system that actually works pretty damn well. Shit happens.

I apologize in advance for the brutally ham-fisted attempt at an aviation/surveillance pun in the post title.

  • Andrew Duthie

    Similar logic was used to destroy Chicago's city airport (Meigs, I think it was) sometime in 2002, in the middle of the night. Security! But really the mayor just wanted to turn it into a park.

  • Matt Parks

    Being a pilot myself, I agree with this. There was no regulatory breakdown, just seems like poor decision making skills by the pilot which lead to an accident. Obtaining a license requires medical exams, criminal background checks, etc. There's no loophole, turn your radio and transponder off and nobody will see or hear you. But you only fly into class D/C/B and do that if you're dumb.

  • Scavenger

    Can we just put a Phalanx CIWS anti-aircraft cannon on top of every cellphone tower in the country?

  • TheNuszAbides

    for those who don't believe in a creator who takes an omniscient interest (?) in our dawdlings, there's always the hackman/smith vehicle 'enemy of the state' (adjusted for inflation).