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"Texas crash raises questions about pilot licenses"
- From: "Stephen Irwin" <stepheni@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 6 Aug 2008 03:56:35 +0430
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Crash near Tyler raises questions about pilot licenses
The Associated Press
TYLER - The pilot in a small plane crash that injured three people in East
Texas last month had no license to fly, renewing questions about oversight
of pilot certification.
Federal investigators said Paul Kaemmerling only had a student pilot
certificate that expired more than two years ago when his Cessna 172 went
down July 26 near Athens Municipal Airport. No one on board was seriously
Authorities determined the plane had no mechanical problems that would have
caused the plane to go down, said Jennifer Kaiser, an investigator with the
National Transportation and Safety Board.
"It may be that a contributing factor in the crash is that he did not have
the proper training to fly," Kaiser said in Sunday's editions of the Tyler
Kaiser said that since January, she has worked three plane crashes in which
the pilot has not been certified. She said there is no way of knowing how
many flights each day may have non-certified pilots behind the controls.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Roland Herwig said pilots are
caught flying without certification several times each week. But Herwig said
he believed that cases of uncertified pilots were "very rare" considering
the tens of thousands of flights each day.
Herwig told the newspaper that not every pilot is checked, and that he could
not go into details about "how or when" ramp checks are performed before
takeoff because of security issues.
"The system is safe," Herwig said. "There's a natural tension and we can't
be everywhere at once, but we are maintaining the safety of the system and
integrity of the certificates by checking up on them."
Uncertified pilots caught flying can be fined up to $1,100 per violation,
Pilot certifications are good for life once obtained, but a separate medical
certificate also be kept in good standing, Civil Air Patrol Capt. Arthur
Woodgate said the problem of uncertified pilots is greater in the south than
closer to Washington, D.C., or New York and more densely populated areas. He
said another area not being monitored is ranchers who fly their own planes
from ranch to ranch.
"You can fly from ranch to ranch and no one ever knows," Woodgate said.
"There is no way to regulate that because there is no way to tell,
especially if you're flying under the radar. If you do that then no one
knows you're there."
Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland
Security Committee, said the panel expects to have a briefing from the
Department of Homeland Security about issues involving general aviation in
the next few weeks.
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