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PLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at [http://www.house.gov/transportation]. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.







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MAY 29, 1996

Printed for the use of the

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure


BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania, Chairman

WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
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JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
WILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire
BILL BAKER, California
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
PETER I. BLUTE, Massachusetts
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
ZACH WAMP, Tennessee
RANDY TATE, Washington
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
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NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
PAT DANNER, Missouri
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
BOB FILNER, California
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FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi


JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee, Chairman

JERRY WELLER, Illinois, Vice-Chairman
WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
WILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire
JAY KIM, California
RANDY TATE, Washington
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RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
(Ex Officio)

PAT DANNER, Missouri
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
(Ex Officio)

    Clement, Hon. Bob, a Representative in Congress from Tennessee

    Hall, Durwood, Councilman, Metropolitan Nashville City Council
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    Jeffers, Bill F., Director Air Traffic, Federal Aviation Administration

    McGinn, Rear Admiral Dennis V., Director, Air Warfare Division, Naval Operations, U.S. Navy, accompanied by Captain Dale Snodgrass, Commander, Fighter Wing One

    Moore, General William G., Jr., President, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority

    Newsom, Angelia and Michael, Nashville Residents, Ground Victims' Children

    Wair, Traci, Nashville Resident, Ground Victim's Daughter


    Clement, Hon. Bob, of Tennessee
    Costello, Hon. Jerry F., of Illinois
    Lipinski, Hon. William, of Illinois


    Jeffers, Bill F

    McGinn, Rear Admiral Dennis V

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    Moore, General William G., Jr

    Newsom, Angelia and Michael

    Wair, Traci


Letter to C.L. Overman, City Manager, City of Alcoa, Alcoa, Tennessee, from Hon. John J, Duncan, Jr., Chairman, Subcommittee on Aviation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, February 20, 1996

    Letters to Chairman Duncan from C.L. Overman, February 7 and 15, 1996

    Resolution Supporting Action By Congressmen John J. Duncan and Bob Clement Regarding Airport Operations, Resolution No. 1629



House of Representatives,

Subcommittee on Aviation,

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Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,

Washington, DC.

    The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 12 noon, in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John J. Duncan, Jr. (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

    Mr. DUNCAN. We will go ahead and call the subcommittee to order, and I would like first of all to say good afternoon and welcome to the hearing today to discuss the issue of high-performance takeoffs by military aircraft at civilian airports.

    Before we begin, let me first thank our distinguished witnesses for taking time out of their very busy schedules to be with us. Mr. Jeffers, Admiral McGinn, Captain Snodgrass, I appreciate very much your being here today.

    The second panel consists of constituents from Representative Clement's district and my home State of Tennessee. So we thank each of you for traveling here to Washington to address the subcommittee. Feel confident that your testimony will be very informative and helpful to us.

    This hearing was requested by my good friend Mr. Clement, who is a fine member and an active member of this subcommittee, as a result of an unfortunate accident that occurred earlier this year in Nashville. Although it is not very often that we have representatives from one of our military branches testifying before this subcommittee, we do think it is important that our members understand the details of the accident and any necessary action that may have resulted from this as well as the interaction, coordination, and communications between the FAA's aircraft and controllers and military pilots.
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    On the morning of January 29, 1996, a U.S. Navy aircrew was preparing to depart on a cross-country flight in their F–14A Tomcat from Nashville, Tennessee, to Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, California. Shortly after takeoff, the F–14A crashed into a home, killing the pilot, his radar intercept officer, and three individuals on the ground. The U.S. Navy investigation concluded that the accident was a result of pilot error. Apparently the pilot lost control of the aircraft because of vertigo he experienced by attempting a maneuver that is already restricted by existing Navy regulations.

    I believe that although this accident was very tragic—and I think I can speak for a majority of members on the subcommittee that, in general, the Navy fighter pilot program is very safe and their pilots are very well trained and we are all proud of the dedication and hard work that the Navy does for this Nation day in and day out—I know that we do not live in a perfect world, but I think if we can help make an already safe air system in this country even safer, if we can help prevent accidents, then we are moving close to where we want to be, and that is with a zero accident policy.

    I believe this hearing will help us more fully understand the sequence of events surrounding this terrible and tragic accident in Nashville so that we, as a subcommittee, will be better informed in order to make sound decisions and policies.

    [The prepared statement of Mr. Costello follows:]

    [Insert here.]

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    Mr. DUNCAN. So again, let me thank the witnesses for being here, and I now will recognize my good friend, Congressman Clement, for any statement or testimony that he wishes to give at this time.


    Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I might say, Chairman Duncan, immediately when I brought this matter to his attention about a congressional hearing, he didn't waste any time at all, he moved immediately, promptly, as he always does, to be a most effective Member of Congress and serve the people of Tennessee and the entire country in a very able manner.

    I also want to welcome several Nashvillians to the hearing: General Moore, who is a true general, a four-star general and an award-winning airport manager; Councilman Durwood Hall is a thoughtful and dedicated public servant who represents the residents of the Nashville neighborhood affected by this crash.

    Finally, I want to welcome the Wair and Newsom families to Washington—they have a tragic story to tell which only they can tell and Congress must hear—as well as we will have Bill Jeffers, director of air traffic at the FAA; and Rear Admiral Dennis McGinn, director of the Air Warfare Division, Naval Operations, U.S. Navy, with Captain Dale Snodgrass.

    As you know, on the morning of January 29, as Chairman Duncan has stated, a U.S. Navy F–14 Tomcat crashed into a neighborhood shortly after taking off from Nashville International Airport.
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    Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend you for holding these hearings, and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to testify before you today.

    I also want to welcome several Nashvillians to the hearings. General William Moore is a true gentleman, a four-star general, and an award-winning airport manager. Councilman Durwood Hall is a thoughtful and dedicated public servant who represents the residents of the Nashville neighborhood affected by this crash. Finally, I want to welcome the Wair and Newsom families to Washington. They have a tragic story to tell which only they can tell and the Congress must hear.

    As you know, on the morning of January 29, 1996, a U.S. Navy F–14 Tomcat crashed into a residential neighborhood shortly after taking off from Nashville International Airport, killing the two pilots on board and taking the lives of three civilian Nashville residents.

    Given the highly publicized engine problems of the U.S. Navy's aging F–14 fleet, there was speculation that engine complications may have been a factor in this crash. However, after a 2-month investigation, the Navy has concluded that the direct cause of the mishap was pilot error.

    I congratulate the Navy for its prompt investigation and subsequent release of its report, but I am disturbed by the findings. In my mind, serious questions have been raised about the preparedness of our fighter pilots as well as the airworthiness of the F–14A aircraft. However, I have raised these concerns in other settings and do not wish to pursue them further today.
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    The accident in Nashville is a terrible tragedy, and the people in the affected area are still suffering from the aftershocks. However, it would be doubly tragic if the Navy and the Federal Aviation Administration were to forget the lessons that have been learned from this tragedy.

    The Nashville crash raised several issues for the community and myself, especially regarding the safety of residential areas located near airports where military fighter jets land and take off.

    Nashville has long shared Berry Field with the Tennessee Air National Guard, so the presence of military aircraft at our airport is no surprise to any Nashvillian. However, I believe most residents of our community were unaware until the crash on January 29 that military fighter jets regularly receive approval to utilize the airport on cross-country missions.

    It is my belief, as well as those in our community who have great respect for our Nation's military and the safety of its air program, that military fighter jets should not be banned from our airport or any other airport which is equipped to meet the needs of fighter jets under Navy regulations. This step, I believe, would be an overreaction to this particular incident and would not be based on the overall safety record of military fighter jets.

    However, I do believe we should look more closely at the types of maneuvers practiced by military fighter jets near residential airports as well as the regulations which govern the use of airports by military fighter jets.
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    It is my purpose today to hear from the Navy and the FAA regarding its current restrictions of flight maneuvers in residential areas and to discuss any possible need for further restrictions. For example, I am aware that acrobatic maneuvers, such as the one performed by the pilot in the Nashville crash, are banned by the Navy in congested areas. Yet, should restrictions also be put on the use of afterburners or maximum performance takeoffs at these airports to ensure the highest levels of public safety?

    I am also interested in the safety issues involved in operating a military installation at an airport which is intended for public use and is located near civilian populations. Do military operations by military aircraft at civilian airports present unique safety issues for commercial airlines and general aviation flights?

    Finally, in the wake of the crash, I was disturbed by a seeming lack of coordination between the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration in relation to terminology used to clear military pilots for takeoffs at residential airports. While the Navy states that it does not use the term ''high performance takeoff'' to describe the use of afterburners at takeoff, its officials used this term regularly immediately after the crash in Nashville. The FAA also says that it does not use this term but only gives a pilot clearance for an ''unrestricted climb.''

    I understand that FAA controllers did not want to take the blame for clearing a risky procedure. Yet, air traffic controllers have also told me that they understand that ''unrestricted climbs'' requested by fighter jets will be done at a ''high performance'' level, as opposed to other commercial airliners who request the same takeoff clearance.
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    It seems to me that much of this is an effort by each agency to shift the blame rather than communicating clearly about gaps that may exist in each agency's understanding of what exactly will take place when a military fighter jet requests a departure from a residential airport.

    If each agency does have a clear understanding of terminology and the procedures to be used for departures, I also question whether additional procedures should be added to ensure that the air traffic controllers are completely aware of not only the altitude ceiling on the unrestricted climb but also what kind of maneuvers a pilot may use to clear a certain airspace.

    For example, should FAA and DOD regulations require a procedure which would have demanded that the air traffic controller ask the angle of climb which Lieutenant Commander Bates would use to climb to 15,000 feet? Should FAA ban the use of afterburners at residential airports while allowing fighter jets to continue receiving clearances for unrestricted climbs?

    These and many other questions deserve to be answered by the Navy and the Federal Aviation Administration for the families involved, the Nashville community, and other communities which have been affected by similar incidences.

    In closing, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the families of Elmer and Aida Newsom, Navy Lieutenant Commander Stacy Bates, Radio Intercept Officer Lieutenant Graham Higgins. It is in their memory that we hold these hearings and work with the military and the FAA to be sure tragedies like this one do not happen again.
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    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Bob, and while the next panel is coming forward, you can join me up here on the dais.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Our first panel will consist of Mr. Bill F. Jeffers, who is the director of air traffic for the Federal Aviation Administration; and Rear Admiral Dennis V. McGinn, who is the director of the Air Warfare Division of Naval Operations for the United States Navy; and he is accompanied by Captain Dale Snodgrass, who is commander of Flight Wing One, United States Navy.

    Gentlemen, thank you all for being with us today.

    Mr. Jeffers, you can begin your testimony, please.



    Mr. JEFFERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I welcome the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee today to discuss high-performance takeoffs by military aircraft at civilian airports.
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    First let me say that we at the FAA are saddened, as we know our Department of Defense colleagues are, at the loss of life that occurred on January 29 when an F–14A crashed near Nashville, Tennessee. This occurred just after takeoff from Nashville International Airport. Since the investigation of that accident is within the purview of the Department of Defense, the DOD representatives here today are of course best positioned to provide you with those details.

    Before I describe the FAA's policy on what has been referred to by some as high-performance takeoffs or, as we refer to these maneuvers, unrestricted climbs, let me just say that the relationship between FAA and DOD in terms of providing air traffic control services has been a positive one.

    While DOD controllers and military facilities handle much of the military air traffic, FAA personnel and facilities are strategically placed, with civilian controllers working with military controllers to provide safe and efficient air traffic control services for civil and military aircraft.

    In 1994, the FAA's air route traffic control centers logged some 4.4 million military operations, while FAA towers logged about 2.3 million military operations. In fact, there are large numbers of both high-performance and cargo-type military aircraft operating at a number of commercial airports such as St. Louis Lambert Field and Chicago's O'Hare.

    FAA air traffic controllers provide services and exercise control over military aircraft that largely mirror the services provided to, and control exercised over, civil aircraft. There are, however, some examples of special procedures applied primarily to military operations that I can share with you.
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    Clearance to conduct formation flights, for example, is granted primarily to military aircraft when air traffic control conditions permit. Formation flights take place when two or more aircraft apply visual separation with one another but are controlled by air traffic controllers as one aircraft. There is a military subset of formation flights known as ''Military Authority Assumes Responsibility for Separation of Aircraft;'' the acronym is MARSA.

    In MARSA, subject to air traffic control approval, the military services involved in flights assume direct responsibility for separation between those aircraft within the formation during the formation flight. MARSA is also used by the military at civil airports or in civil airspace in other circumstances; for example, in special takeoff procedures, such as minimum interval takeoffs and in-air refueling. When it is safe to do so, MARSA permits the FAA to accommodate the military mission-specific operations and civil airspace.

    The FAA does not use or define the term ''high-performance takeoff'' in its air traffic control procedures. We do, however, recognize and grant, when appropriate, a request by a pilot to make an unrestricted climb. This type of air traffic clearance allows an aircraft to take off and more quickly assume its desired altitude instead of climbing in stages. In the case of some high-performance aircraft such as the F–14, this may involve a very rapid ascent to altitude.

    One of the chief advantages from a pilot's perspective is the fuel savings afforded by such a maneuver. That is why, in addition to requests that are received from military aircraft, civil aircraft such as business and cargo jets often request unrestricted climbs, and in either case, whether military or civil, an unrestricted climb clearance would be granted by FAA as a matter of course if such a request can be safely accommodated by the air traffic conditions in the surrounding airspace.
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    Simply stated, the controller's job is to separate the aircraft being controlled, and if an unrestricted climb can be accommodated within existing air traffic conditions, the controller will grant that clearance. This was the case with the F–14A aircraft involved in the January 29 accident in Nashville International Airport.

    I should add that following that accident an FAA review determined that FAA air traffic control procedures were properly followed in granting the unrestricted climb clearance.

    That completes my prepared statement, Mr. Chairman. I would be pleased to respond to any questions you may have at this time.

    Thank you.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Jeffers.

    Before we go on, let me say that I am very pleased we have been joined by our outstanding ranking member, Congressman Lipinski from Illinois.

    Congressman Lipinski, do you have a statement or comment you would wish to make at this time?

    Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much. I apologize for being late, but you can't always trust the American aviation industry to get you where you want to be on time.
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    I want to include my opening statement in the record, and I ask unanimous consent to do that. Then we can get back to the witnesses.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. Without objection, so ordered.

    [Mr. Clement's and Mr. Lipinski's prepared statements follow:]

    [Insert here.]

    Mr. DUNCAN. Admiral, you may begin your statement.

    Admiral MCGINN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the subcommittee. Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you and discuss takeoff procedures used by U.S. Navy aircraft at civilian airports.

    I would like to emphasize that safety is Naval Aviation's top priority. It is our responsibility to ensure that our hard-working Navy men and women operate and work in safe settings with safe and reliable equipment.

    As you know, Naval aviation is a demanding and, at times, an unforgiving profession. All naval aviation operations are governed by regulations called the Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization Program, or NATOPS, for short. This program is establish for every flight operation and for every type model and series of aircraft that the Navy operates. This program further provides the foundation for development of sound operating procedures and is governed by the Department of Navy's General Flight and Operations Instruction, which is called Chief of Naval Operation Instruction 3710.7.
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    The CNO instruction 3710.7 issues policy and procedural guidance that is applicable for all naval aircraft and their related activities. Additionally, each aircraft has an additional NATOPS manual that contains specific standard flight doctrine and proper operating procedures for the aircraft model and aviation mission concerned.

    I have come before this hearing to clarify two important areas: First, I would like to address the perception, or the supposition, that major differences exist between naval aircraft operations at a civilian airport and operations at a military airport.

    All U.S. airports are governed by Federal Aviation Administration regulations. These regulations apply to both civilian or military airfields and flight operations in all of U.S. national airspace. FAA order 7400.9B provides a complete listing of all airspace designations and required flight recording points established under Part 91 of the Federal aviation regulations.

    As specified in this order, each airport has a designated airspace which is defined by altitude and/or distances in which all aircraft operators, both military and civilian, are subject to the minimum qualifications, requirements, operating rules, and aircraft equipment requirements of Part 91 of Federal aviation regulations. In these air traffic areas, all military pilots are required to operate in accordance with the FAA regulations.

    Second, I would like to discuss a term that is often used but little understood: ''High-performance takeoff.'' This maneuver is not spelled out or described in military instruction or regulation. However, the use of engine afterburner on takeoff by certain tactical aircraft is frequently referred to as a high-performance takeoff.
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    Afterburners are devices which ignite fuel in chambers in the back of turbojet engines which significantly increase rated engine thrust. The authorization to perform afterburner takeoffs is not regulated by the airport at which the takeoff is being conducted. Rather, use of afterburner for takeoffs is regulated by each aircraft type NATOPS flight manual.

    An afterburner takeoff is performed in order to expedite safe flying speed and in the shortest possible distance for specific aircraft weight and external configuration.

    Currently the F–14A and FA–18 series aircraft are the only aircraft authorized to perform afterburner takeoffs in the Navy. Afterburner takeoffs for these airplanes are part of normal operations and are not considered to be unusual or high-performance maneuvers.

    In accordance with CNO instruction 3710.7, quote, ''Pilots shall not perform or request clearance to perform unusual maneuvers within class B, C, or D airspace if such maneuvers are not essential to the performance of the flight.'' Class B airspace is found in the vicinity of large airports, Class C airspace is in the vicinity of airports with control towers and radar approach control, and Class D airspace is in the vicinity of airports with an operational control tower.

    Air traffic control personnel are not permitted to approve a pilot's request or to ask a pilot to perform such maneuvers. Unusual maneuvers include unnecessary low passes, unscheduled flyby climbs at very steep angles, practice approaches to low altitudes below a specific minimum unless a landing is to be made, and any flight conducted at a low altitude and high rate of speed for flow purposes.
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    Additionally, CNO instruction 3710.7 states that any intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in aircraft attitude, intentionally performed spins, or other maneuvers requiring pitch/dive angles greater than 45 degrees, or accelerations greater than two G's is considered acrobatics flight.

    With CNO instruction 3710.7, acrobatics or other maneuvers are prohibited when conducted at low altitude and/or high speed for flow purposes over land or water.

    An afterburner takeoff followed by an approved unrestricted climb is not a prohibited maneuver or an acrobatic maneuver. It is part of the normal and safe operations for tactical aircraft operating from both civilian and military airfields.

    In summary, Naval Aviation is committed to the full compliance of all governing Navy and FAA regulations and policies. Operational safety is paramount, and any violation of regulations, flight safety parameters, or common sense is simply unacceptable. Each suspected mishap or investigation is investigated thoroughly for all possible information that can prevent future mishaps from the same cause.

    Additionally, any aircrew found to have violated procedures are subject to action ranging from administrative counseling to loss of wings to actions taken under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, depending on the severity of the violation.

    Improvement of naval aviation safety effectiveness and efficiency, a constant and ongoing effort ensuring that all of our aircrew operate strictly within prescribed guidelines, is now and will continue to be a top priority throughout Naval Aviation.
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    Before I conclude my remarks, I would like to express my own condolence and deepest sympathies to the Newsom and Wair families over the loss of their loved ones.

    Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to testify and clarify these issues.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Admiral.

    We have now been joined by Mr. LaHood, and Mr. LaHood is an outstanding member of this subcommittee and always participates.

    Mr. LaHood, do you have any statements you wish to make at this time?

    All right, thank you very much. I am going to turn it over to Mr. Clement here right away, but let me just ask you, Admiral: There were reports or claims that the pilot involved here had a weak record and that this accident was caused by pilot error. Were there some Navy procedures that failed to remove a pilot from duty here?

    Admiral MCGINN. As a result of an investigation that was made public several weeks ago, the investigation that we call a Jag man investigation, certain procedures that were intended to identify pilots that were not performing to standards were called into question. These relate primarily to squadron command to which the aircraft that was in the Nashville mishap was assigned.

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    We are continuing to follow up action in the Navy using our chain of command in the Pacific in which the squadron was located to determine if there was a failure in the checks and balances systems we have in this case. Part of that will be the consideration of the determination of relief for cause in the case of the commanding officer of the squadron concerned.

    Mr. DUNCAN. All right.

    Mr. Jeffers, was there any FAA rule or regulation that was violated in this accident?

    Mr. JEFFERS. Mr. Chairman, unless it was acrobatic, unless the maneuver exceeded the limitations that the admiral laid out, if it was an acrobatic maneuver, there is an FAA regulation that prohibits acrobatic maneuvers in the Class B airspace it was operating in.

    Mr. DUNCAN. So you do have a regulation that mirrors or duplicates this naval regulation that was violated?

    Mr. JEFFERS. Yes, sir, we have regulations that apply to all aircraft operating over populated areas and in restricted airspace or in terminal airspace that deals with acrobatic maneuvers. It can't be done without a waiver.

    Mr. DUNCAN. I am going to go at this time to Mr. Clement.

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    Mr. CLEMENT. Mr. Jeffers, when you talk about acrobatic maneuvers, now the Navy has already said that the pilot violated their rules. Does that not also violate the rules of the FAA?

    Mr. JEFFERS. Yes, sir, it does.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Why are military fighter jets departing from civilian airports in or near residential areas not regulated by FAA regarding their degree of climb?

    Mr. JEFFERS. The degree of climb is a part of what we were just discussing, Congressman; that is, acrobatic maneuvers. Different aircraft will climb at different rates with different degrees of angle, depending on the operating characteristics of the aircraft, the weight of the aircraft, the weather on the particular day, those types of things.

    I believe that it is regulated in that acrobatic flight is prohibited, and the Navy, in and of itself, defines that as being greater than a 45-degree angle.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Well, does the FAA assume it has no responsibility in approval of departures by military fighter jets other than giving clearance for an unrestricted climb?

    Mr. JEFFERS. No, sir. We do have responsibility for all operations within the airspace. We assume when we issue a departure clearance that pilots will adhere to the Federal Aviation Regulations. When he did not adhere to the Federal Aviation Regulations, as in the case of military aircraft, we would report that to the military authorities who would then deal with the irregularity in the operation.
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    Mr. CLEMENT. What measures could be taken by air traffic controllers to ensure they understand a military fighter pilot's flight intention?

    Mr. JEFFERS. Mr. Congressman, I believe that the controllers have very good knowledge of flight intentions and the exchange on that day in Nashville. I don't think there was any ambiguity at all. When a pilot asks for an unrestricted climb, I believe the controller should reasonably believe that the aircraft would be using an afterburner to climb to 15,000 feet very expeditiously.

    Mr. CLEMENT. What assumptions do air traffic controller make when clearing a military jet for takeoff?

    Mr. JEFFERS. There are several assumptions that I think air traffic controllers make based on their experience and training. There is an assumption, number one, that anytime it is a tactical aircraft such as an F–14 or other services' F-16, those type of aircraft, that the use of an afterburner is likely or is probable.

    I also think there is the knowledge that the controller has that the speed of that aircraft will exceed the speed of the departing transport category or air carrier aircraft so allowances are made for separation standards for that.

    There is also a process for single piloted aircraft, high performance aircraft, if you will. The aircraft is put on a departure control frequency prior to departing the airport. This is different than we do for air carrier aircraft or civil aircraft.
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    So there are several assumptions that controllers are trained for and have knowledge of and apply on a regular basis and military operations from civilian airports.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Admiral, does the pilot believe the control tower is aware of his or her intentions in regard to degree of climb and acceleration?

    Admiral MCGINN. Yes, sir, I believe they do.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Under what conditions do F–14As use afterburner?

    Admiral MCGINN. F–14As use afterburners for takeoffs both ashore and at sea, as well as for tactical acceleration for turning purposes when doing air combat maneuver training as well as for accelerating rapidly to attain a more tactical airspeed.

    Mr. CLEMENT. It is my understanding that you recently banned the use of afterburners by F–14Bs and D models while you exclude the F–14A from that. Why?

    Admiral MCGINN. The reasons we exclude the F–14A is because it a different type of engine and different type of afterburner. In the case of F–14B and D, we are investigating a mishap that occurred in the Pacific in February. The mishap aircraft had the type of engine that those two aircraft models fly. Until the investigation is completed, we restricted temporarily the use of the afterburner for F–14Bs, and Ds.
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    Mr. CLEMENT. Of all your models, the one you have had the most problems with is the F–14A; right?

    Admiral MCGINN. The engine problems we have experienced with the F–14A have not been related to use of afterburner, sir; it has been other portions of the engine that has caused those problems.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Why are afterburners restricted at Miramar Air Naval Station and why shouldn't they not be restricted at other airports near congested areas?

    Admiral MCGINN. Sir, they are not restricted at Miramar. To my knowledge, afterburners use can be used by F–14As, can be used at any approved military airfield.

    If I could, sir, I would like to call on Captain Dale Snodgrass, a commander of Fighter Wing One who is commander of all the F–14 aircraft in the Atlantic fleet, and I would like to have him comment on that as well.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Okay, that would be fine.

    I would like to say, Captain, that it is my understanding that certain takeoffs are not permitted at Miramar but it is okay at Nashville International Airport or other places; is that true?

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    Captain SNODGRASS. That is true. Normal operations out of military bases specifically say Miramar or my home air station, Naval Air Station Oceana. Because of the numbers of incoming and outgoing fighters, we set up a flow of aircraft both inbound and outbound that optimizes the efficiency of the airport, and in that case, specifically over Miramar and Oceana, there are several air routes that fly over the top and we remain at a little lower altitude until we get right over the ocean, which is only 10 miles away. Then we climb essentially unrestricted down 15,000 to 20,000 feet to enter the operating area. But it is done primarily out of efficiency of using the airspace, the airfield, because of the numbers of the aircraft arriving and departing.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Is high performance takeoff a term understood by the Navy and, if not, why do your officers respond to and use this term in Nashville?

    Admiral MCGINN. Sir, I think it was a term that was used not to indicate that it was an official term but rather a term that was used loosely to describe a takeoff that involved the use of afterburner. But it does not have a specific definition in the F–14 or F–18 NATOPS manual as a high performance takeoff.

    Mr. CLEMENT. What other incidents have occurred where a military fighter jet crashed into residential areas shortly after takeoff? Did these crashes involve similar problems?

    Admiral MCGINN. To my knowledge, I cannot recall any similar incident to the one that we had at Nashville on the 29th of January, sir.

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    Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Clement. We have now been joined by Mr. Ewing and Mr. Ehlers.

    Mr. Ewing, do you have any statements you wish to make?

    Mr. Ehlers.

    Mr. EHLERS. No, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for being late. I had Floor duty to take care of.

    Mr. DUNCAN. That is all—we understand.

    Mr. LaHood. Mr. Lipinski.

    Mr. LIPINSKI. I have a question in regard to has the Department of Defense or its service organizations put out any new guidance or training practices as a result of the January Nashville accident?

    Admiral MCGINN. We put out a copy of the mishap investigation report that outlined all the circumstances surrounding the mishap. These are used as part of our aviation safety program to alert all aircraft users, all F–14 squadrons, in this case, of the circumstances surrounding that, and each of these reports has a section for both conclusions about what we think caused the mishap and recommendations, steps which should be taken to avoid similar circumstances. Those recommendations are divided effectively into two categories: Those that can be implemented immediately and those which are in that category that have been implemented.
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    Additionally, there are some longer-term recommendations such as sending all of our aviation safety officers and commanding officers to aviation safety school at Navy postgraduate school in Monterey. That will take a longer time to accommodate, but the steps have been taken to initiate that action as well.

    Mr. LIPINSKI. I am not that familiar with the area, but why do you have these planes landing and taking off from a commercial airport? Why don't they utilize a military facility?

    Admiral MCGINN. The Nashville airport, to use an example of one of many, is defined by the Department of Defense and by the Federal aviation agency as a joint-use airfield. In most cases, if not all cases, joint-use airfields usually have the presence of a military unit and in many cases a Guard unit such as it is at Nashville. In the case of Yuma International Airport, it is primarily a Marine Corps air station on one side and a civilian airport on the other but they share the same runway and air traffic control facilities.

    Mr. LIPINSKI. Does that situation exist on many commercial airports across the country?

    Admiral MCGINN. Yes, sir, I believe it does. You might want to refer to Mr. Jeffers to elaborate on that.

    Mr. JEFFERS. Yes, there is a great number of them. As you know, there is an aircraft refueling unit at O'Hare that uses that airport on a regular basis. There is a large squadron of Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard F–16s on the St. Louis Airport, very active, and we have that in just about every State; there is some joint-use facilities.
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    Mr. LIPINSKI. Is that Lambert Field or Lambert International you are referring to in St. Louis?

    Mr. JEFFERS. Yes, it is.

    Mr. LIPINSKI. I thought you were referring to the new Mid-America Airport on the other side of the river.

    Going back to my earlier question to you in regard to the report, how widely was that mishap investigation report disseminated?

    Admiral MCGINN. It was disseminated to all activities throughout the Navy that operated the F–14 or supported it in any other way. By support, I mean those agencies that conduct engineering investigations or conduct engineering support or maintenance support for the F–14.

    Mr. LIPINSKI. Does that include the Marine Corps also?

    Admiral MCGINN. Yes, sir.

    Captain SNODGRASS. I can add a little bit to that. That accident and the subsequent investigation and the results of that investigation were thoroughly briefed to each and every F–14 squadron in the Navy, so every individual F–14 crew that is lying in active duty today is aware of all the intricacies of that investigation. And specifically the procedural violations that the pilot flew that day, especially his climb angle, et cetera.
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    Mr. LIPINSKI. Just one last question I have. This is where the F–14s normally landed and took off or was this a special reason that the plane was over there?

    Captain SNODGRASS. He was on an authorized cross-country training flight in which he remained over the weekend, which is not something we do every day but it occurs occasionally and was approved, and he was getting training flights while he flew from Miramar to Nashville. Then was subsequently getting additional training flights on the way home to Miramar. F–14s do not routinely operate out of Nashville, but they have gone in there in the past.

    Mr. LIPINSKI. Is there a military airport in the immediate vicinity that he could have landed at?

    Captain SNODGRASS. No, there is not. The closest one would be probably in Memphis, Naval Air Station Memphis.

    Mr. LIPINSKI. I don't know how far Memphis is from Nashville; I am sure the Tennesseans on this panel know. I will get the information from them. Thank you.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Lipinski.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Mr. Duncan, when you finish up I have a few more questions.
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    Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Lipinski got into the use of the civilian airfields by the military and Mr. Jeffers describes the extent of it. I think in 1994 the FAA's air route traffic control centers log some 4.4 million military operations while FAA towers logged about 2.3 million military operations. So is that correct, Mr. Jeffers?

    Mr. JEFFERS. Yes, sir.

    Mr. DUNCAN. That shows there is an extensive use by the military of these civilian airports and airfields around the country.

    Admiral McGinn, let me ask you this: I know personally a recently retired Navy pilot who loves the Navy but who told our staff that these unrestricted takeoffs by Navy pilots is something, he said it was something he commonly did or almost always did, and he said almost all the pilots do it because it is fun. Their mission almost never really requires it, but they just like to do it. And knowing other military pilots, and they are all fine people, the ones I have known, I can kind of understand that.

    Do you think that—would you disagree with that statement or what would you say about that statement?

    Admiral MCGINN. I would be interested in knowing, sir, if he was referring to takeoff maneuvers that were unauthorized that exceeded the limits that were prescribed by other regulations and instructions. If that were the case——

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    Mr. DUNCAN. I am sure he meant these unrestricted takeoffs as shown in this diagram that would be within the regulations.

    Admiral MCGINN. Yes, sir. Let me just say without being facetious in the least that flying these fine aircraft is a fun experience in and of itself. It is a tremendously satisfying experience for anyone who loves Naval aviation or any type of aviation. The ability to fly one of these great machines is by definition fun. At times it—many times it is very, very demanding, and we can never lose sight of the fact that we procure these aircraft to fight our Nation's wars. But nevertheless, the training, the operations of these aircraft are very, very satisfying.

    To do a takeoff which involves the afterburner does produce much greater acceleration in terms of speed acceleration, and in order to maintain a climb airspeed, a steeper climb angle as you have indicated on the diagram that I have provided you, and that could be described as being a more attention-getting or more fun maneuver to do. But it is in no way any more dangerous or less safe than doing a takeoff in a military—with a military rated thrust or nonafterburner takeoff.

    Let me say also, sir, that what happened on the 29th of January in Nashville, the causes for that mishap were primarily due to three factors. The first and I think most significant was the pilot's decision to do a maneuver that was not authorized. It was not simply an unrestricted climb; it was a maneuver that can best be described as an acrobatic maneuver that exceeded the climb angle defined by regulations and exceeded the angle which he would have and should have achieved had he simply been doing an afterburner takeoff leading to an unrestricted climb to get up out of the congested airspace and level off at his assigned altitude of 15,000 feet.
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    The second factor is the weather. The fact that he chose to do that unauthorized very steep acrobatic maneuver into weather limited his ability to refer to the ground as a reference point and induced a physiological phenomenon of vertigo.

    And the third factor on which I have to speculate because we simply don't know but we have strong suspicion, that there was some sort of distraction in the cockpit. It could have been something as simple as turning to the departure frequency on his radio. It could have been some other nuisance, light in the cockpit or some other factors that distracted the pilot's attention.

    Those were the primary reasons. Had the pilot on that day in Nashville done an afterburner takeoff with an unrestricted climb in accordance with regulations, I have a very, very great deal of confidence that this mishap would not have occurred.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Well, let me say this: All of us have great respect for the military, and I certainly do, I know Mr. Clement does, and great respect for the Navy. We don't want to harm our military but what harm would it do to the Navy—first of all, let me say this: I know that the pilots don't really like any restrictions, the same way that nobody likes any restrictions; everybody likes the utmost freedom possible. I guess I am assuming that the Navy would object very strongly if we pass some law or some rule or regulation that said you can't have unrestricted takeoffs by military pilots from civilian airfields.

    Now tell me how you feel that would harm the Navy if you did that, if you said that these unrestricted takeoffs had to be limited strictly to military airfields?
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    Admiral MCGINN. Yes, sir. So I can be specific, let me divide my response into two areas.

    First, I will talk about unrestricted climbs, and then, secondly, I will talk about afterburner takeoffs. They sometimes are used interchangeably. Many times they are related, but I want to talk about——

    Mr. DUNCAN. I am glad you made that distinction. What I am really talking about are these unrestricted climbs but let's go ahead and do it. It is better the way you said.

    Admiral MCGINN. An unrestricted climb can be done literally by any type of airplane. As Mr. Jeffers said in his remarks, they are frequently done by civilian airlines as well as military transports as well as by high performance fighter aircraft. The unrestricted climb is a good tool for air crews of all of those other types of aircraft as well as for the Federal Aviation air traffic controllers because they very rapidly get an aircraft out of what is usually a congested air traffic control zone, air traffic control area and up to altitude where there is far less traffic, less restrictions due to airways that come close to the airfield. And it is a good thing for fuel consumption in most aircraft as well to get up to altitude to cruising speed as rapidly as you can.

    So I would not recommend any type of law that would prohibit unrestricted climbs for tactical fighter aircraft or really for any type of aircraft because it is a very useful tool that contributes to overall aviation safety throughout the Nation, civilian and military.
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    In terms of afterburner use, I would have some concern about prohibiting that because in the case of the F–14A specifically, the use of afterburner for takeoff is from an airfield whether it is military or civilian, it actually is a safer maneuver for the following reasons: It gets the aircraft accelerated to flying speed much faster and therefore with much less use of the runway than it would if it used less power.

    I will use a rough analogy. It would be similar to coming onto an interstate highway, high speed highway from an on-ramp. And in one case you would want to accelerate, put the accelerator all the way to the floor and get the maximum speed possible quickly and in the shortest distance available so that you can merge safely with traffic as opposed to backing off on the gas pedal. And perhaps putting it down only halfway, you would still eventually accelerate to the same traffic speed but it would take you a much longer distance.

    Another reason, and I would like Captain Snodgrass to comment on this one, the use of the afterburner specifically in the F–14A allows the aircraft, should one of the two engines fail, to still maintain minimum safe climb airspeed or climb performance with the afterburner already selected. There is enough thrust coming out of a single engine with the afterburner lit in the F–14A to continue a safe, although much slower, rate of climb in the event of a catastrophic failure of the engine.

    If I may, sir, I would like to have Captain Snodgrass' comment.

    Captain SNODGRASS. That is true and that is a normal and standard operating procedure of F–14As, the use of full afterburner for takeoff, and it is complicated or it becomes more of a factor the heavier the airplane is. Specifically, the airplane is configured with weapon rails and particularly for flying off the ship with weapons on board.
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    In this case, the F–14A that crashed in Nashville had weapon rails attached to the airplane and external fuel tanks so its gross weight at takeoff was quite high, was probably around 64,000 pounds or so, so use of afterburner is a prudent decision at that point.

    As the Admiral said, if you lost an engine at the critical point, say, aircraft rotation off of the runway, then the use, having been in afterburner with both engines, you would still be able to continue to fly and takeoff of the airplane and then subsequently work on the emergency procedures you had with the failed engine. That is true of all multi-engine aircraft, whether it is an airline—you need to gain a certain velocity which allows you what we call single engine flyaway and will use afterburner in F–14A is a normal procedure.

    On the other hand, our F–14Bs and Ds have almost full afterburner thrust in military power relative to the F–14A. It is a much more powerful engine. So we do not use afterburner for an F–14B or D takeoff whether at the ship or in the field. And, in fact, it is a prohibited maneuver because in that situation you would have too much thrust on the engine and with the engines being a little bit far apart, you would have a symmetry problem. Too much thrust and it would attempt to yaw the aircraft which would turn it sideways, so it has more than enough flyaway capability with just this normal what we call standard rate of thrust or military thrust.

    Mr. LIPINSKI. Would the gentleman yield to me just for a minute?

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    Sir, you mentioned that the aircraft had two tanks on the wings?

    Captain SNODGRASS. The external fuel tanks were underneath the engine themselves in the F–14. It carries an additional 4,000 pounds of fuel, 2,000 pounds in each fuel tank, and they are attached underneath the engine cells on the fuselage.

    Mr. LIPINSKI. Was additional fuel needed for the flight that the plane was going to make at that particular time?

    Captain SNODGRASS. Yes. What we normally do is this aircraft is normal, what we call the fleet configuration, in other words, we fly normally with external fuel tanks and if fighters are traditionally always short on fuel, so the more fuel you can carry, the more effective you are in your missions.

    In the case of the F–14, it has about 16,000 pounds of internal fuel capacity and an additional 4,000 pounds of external capacity, so it allows you in a cross-country situation, in which he was in, to go farther before you have to stop for fuel again.

    In other words, he would be able to get from Nashville to Miramar in two legs versus three if he didn't have the fuel tanks.

    Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Lipinski.

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    Mr. Jeffers, if this acrobatic maneuver that was attempted in Nashville had been done safely, would the FAA have informed the Navy?

    Mr. JEFFERS. Yes, sir, we should have.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Is there—what is the procedure? In other words, what I am wondering about, is this type of thing happening more than we know about, or does the FAA feel like it is ratting on another part—is there somebody in the military, if they told them, if they told on them and so forth; do you have a specific guideline or something that says to your controllers that they have to notify the Navy? What is the procedure for that?

    Mr. JEFFERS. I don't feel like we would be ratting, first of all. I think safety is everybody's issue. I think any time that we have unapproved acrobatic maneuvers or any other occurrence in the air traffic system, everyone is charged with reporting that to their superior, or to the proper authorities. And certainly the supervisors in that facility would have been charged with reporting that.

    Mr. DUNCAN. When you say they are charged, what do they do? Do they just ordinarily tell their supervisor, or is there a form that they fill out?

    Mr. JEFFERS. There are forms that they fill out within the facility to show who they notified and at what time they notified them.

    Of course, this is kind of a self-disclosure thing for our people. The accountability comes when an occurrence happens that is not reported and later on is determined to have occurred in the Airspace System, and I think we have dealt with that very effectively, and I would have to tell you, Mr. Chairman, I think we have a very high level of reporting right now in the National Airspace System of events that are not normal events.
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    Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much.

    Mr. Clement.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Admiral, as you know, I am not totally satisfied with the accident report putting all of the emphasis and blame on the pilot and the navigator. I have been working with Congressman Ike Skelton from Missouri, and we are moving forward with some language now in the National Security Committee to change the composition and the way you go about accident reports, which I think would bring about a much more level playing field than we have now, because I know you have had a lot of problems with the F–14 program, particularly in recent years, and we have lost 32 F–14s since 1991, as you know, Mr. Chairman.

    Particularly the F–14A, there has been a real problem with the engine, and I know the Navy looked closely at replacing those engines, but knowing that the F–14A cost originally $20 million, but replacement engines would cost $21 million compared to what you could buy for $31 million for a new F–14D or F–18.

    What is your response to that?

    Admiral MCGINN. Sir, I would like to just comment first on the mishap report. It is not satisfying for any of us to deal with the aftermath of a fatal mishap that kills three innocent civilians on the ground and two fine, upstanding Navy airmen. But I must say that the mishap report itself and the investigation that led to the report was as thorough as any I have ever seen. It doesn't make us feel more satisfied, as I said, about finding that mistakes were made, particularly by an air crew that were dedicated and very, very professional in their other duties.
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    In terms of the discussions that are taking place with Congressman Skelton, we have been working very, very closely with Congressman Skelton and his staff and other Members and their staffs, to make sure that we have the full confidence of the Congress and the American people in all of the services' ability to investigate ourselves in aviation mishaps. To that end, I have had a member of my staff that has met with Congressman Skelton and with staff members as the language goes forward to do just that.

    We are as interested, as I know you are and other Members of Congress are, in having absolutely full integrity in all of our mishap investigations, because it is the only way that we get better. If we really find out what happens, whether there are mistakes that are made or material failures or maintenance errors or whatever the cause of an aviation mishap, the only way that we can avoid those in the future is to get to the bottom of it and not leave a stone unturned. And toward that end, we look forward to continuing to work with the Congress to make sure that our procedures just make those results as absolutely accurate as they can be.

    Mr. CLEMENT. All right. Did the FAA report this takeoff—okay. These are some answers the family wants, and maybe I will just let Ms. Newsom address these questions when she comes forward, and then we will get a complete response, as long as it is all right with the Chairman, from the Navy and the FAA.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. DUNCAN. That is fine, Mr. Clement.

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    Mr. Ehlers.

    Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Several questions, and if I perchance ask something which was already covered while I was absent, don't feel obligated to answer it. I will get it from you privately later.

    I noticed in the—I have been scanning the written testimony trying to pick up on things. Apparently it was estimated that the pilot was climbing at an angle of 50 degrees; in other words, exceeding your restrictions. How was that determined? Was that calculated based on rate of climb? It indicates ground witnesses said that, and I know from personal experience it is awfully hard to estimate an angle from the ground with that sort of accuracy.

    Admiral MCGINN. It was determined from a variety of sources. One of those sources, of course, were ground witnesses, but I would like to ask Captain Snodgrass, who participated in a special civilian and military team that was convened by the CNO to determine the mishap cause, as well as if there were any trends during that series of three F–14 accidents that we had earlier this year.

    Captain SNODGRASS. Yes, sir. Specifically, the flight profile was reconstituted with two main ingredients. First of all, we knew exactly when the airplane took off, and we knew exactly when it crashed, and we knew those two specific spots, on the airport and then off the airport site.

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    Also, the approach radar, departure radar got radar hits which had very accurate altitude hits on the airplane. So we knew exactly what the altitude was, and we knew at what time they occurred.

    So based on knowing these given points in the profile, it was a fairly simple procedure to determine the exact climb rate, or the climb rate within a couple, three degrees. We estimated that it was—or the investigation team estimated that it was at a minimum of 50 degrees, and maybe as much as 55 degrees.

    Mr. EHLERS. At that——

    Captain SNODGRASS. And by the way, that was all done—those particular profiles were then systematically checked and rechecked in computer simulation and simulator simulation.

    Mr. EHLERS. Would those angles have been sufficient to cause an accident without a reduced air speed to the point where the plane was difficult to handle or might even stall?

    Captain SNODGRASS. In my opinion, no. The large—the major contributing factor, in my opinion, was that though that climb rate and climb angle was done in what we call IMC or instrument meteorological conditions—in other words, he was looking at—he was inside the clouds—if he was outside of the clouds or in what we call visual flight regime, particularly in the daytime, then you would have all of that peripheral reference of the Earth, and I don't think the accident would have occurred in that case.
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    Mr. EHLERS. You also commented in the testimony that you believe the pilot experienced vertigo?

    Captain SNODGRASS. Yes.

    Mr. EHLERS. Isn't that unusual for an experienced pilot to experience vertigo?

    Captain SNODGRASS. No, it is not. In fact, vertigo is a physiological event in which aviators, particularly Navy aviators at the shift, particularly flying at night, experience quite frequently, and it is something that we train to deal with.

    Now, what we believe the mishap crew experienced was a version of vertigo called somatogravical illusion in which the pilot felt he was still climbing even though the aircraft was descending. Because of the instrument flight conditions where he didn't have the Earth or the horizon to reference, he felt, his inner ear felt, that the airplane was still climbing, going over backwards. So if he was a little bit distracted in the cockpit, this is just postulation now, he would then push forward with the stick, and when he pushed forward with the stick, he didn't realize he was continuing to push forward through what would be a level flight attitude to a nose-down attitude, and really didn't—we don't think he realized where he was until he broke out of the clouds with less than 2,000 feet of altitude remaining before he impacted the ground.

    Mr. EHLERS. I am just a little puzzled that someone could get that disoriented so quickly. You know, there are a lot of IFR pilots who handle——
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    Captain SNODGRASS. Well, you can fly—what caused it if he was doing a—you know, he had some rapid accelerations on the aircraft as he was entering the clouds, and that is something that is—you know, it is a phenomenon that occurs all the time. We went back through and looked at other accidents in the past, not F–14s specifically, because it hadn't happened on an F–14, but F–16 and F–18. I think there was upwards of four or five accidents in which the same, exact—we believe the same exact phenomenon occurred.

    Mr. EHLERS. Well, I confess to still being puzzled. I guess I would have to experience it a bit more.

    Admiral MCGINN. If I could, sir, we have a videotape that we constructed as part of the mishap investigation, and in it is a computer simulation of what the aircraft profile was and what the pilot sensations were. We would be happy to provide you a copy of that tape for your review.

    Mr. EHLERS. I would be very interested in seeing that.

    Admiral MCGINN. Yes, sir.

    Mr. EHLERS. There were also references made or allegations made that the pilot had a poor record. Is that correct, or is that hearsay?

    Admiral MCGINN. There were instances in the pilot's aviation history that included the loss of an aircraft in April of 1995, and there were less serious violations of aviation safety, which were—while they were unintentional, nevertheless, they were indicators that taken in the aggregate, perhaps with the aid of 20/20 hindsight that we feel should have been picked up and highlighted or flagged that pilot for some special attention in terms of more training or intense supervision.
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    Mr. EHLERS. Thank you.

    My final comment is about your statement, about use of afterburners, and I agree it maximizes safety to get off the ground quickly. But if you are doing it at a maximum angle of climb, you don't increase the safety at all, and you create a lot of noise for the neighbors of the airport and certainly lose all of the fuel efficiency in the engines of unrestricted climb. I would hope that that is not a standard practice of your pilots to use the afterburner takeoff, particularly from civilian airports.

    Admiral MCGINN. It is a standard practice in the F–14A and the F–18 to use the afterburner for takeoff. The afterburner—the time that the afterburner is deselected is a variable. You can use the afterburner in many instances to accelerate to flying air speed, to get the landing gear retracted, get the proper climb attitude established, and then deselect afterburner. I would say that would be the more normal practice to do it.

    If, for some reason, you had a need to more rapidly ascend, usually in a tactical sense you wouldn't leave the afterburner engaged. But I think that the takeoff in afterburner, defining exactly when the afterburner is deselected is important to determine as well.

    Mr. EHLERS. I would agree with that, and I would assume your standard practice is to turn it off or deselect it rapidly.

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    Admiral MCGINN. Yes, sir.

    I would turn to Captain Snodgrass to describe what the standard operating procedure would be.

    Captain SNODGRASS. The majority of the time, particularly when operating out of our normal operating bases, we deselect afterburner upon reaching what we call the pattern altitude at about 1,000 feet, and at that point we have accelerated to approximately 250 knots and do that.

    Now, we don't have the ability, as I stated before, or we don't normally utilize unrestricted climbs because it is less efficient for our base with the numbers of aircraft coming and going. But that particular procedure, to use afterburner to get yourself up to 200 knots or so, or accelerating through 200 knots with the gear and flaps retracted and then deselect afterburner, is, you know, the normal procedure.

    Mr. EHLERS. Thank you very much.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Ehlers.

    Gentlemen, thank you very much for your testimony and for being with us today. We have some other witnesses that we want to hear from at this time, and we appreciate very much your testimony and your responses to the questions. Thank you very much.
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    We will now call forward Panel 2. The second panel consists of General William G. Moore, Jr., who is president of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority; Mr. Durwood Hall, who is a councilman, a member of the Metropolitan Nashville City Council; Angelia and Michael Newsom, who are residents of Nashville, and who are children of two of the ground victims; and Traci Wair, who is also a Nashville resident, who is the ground victim's daughter.

    We certainly want to welcome all of you here, and I guess we will just proceed with the testimony in the order that the witnesses are listed, and that means that, General Moore, we will start with you, please


    General MOORE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate being asked to come here today to address the use of civilian airports by military aircraft. My comments will focus on five points surrounding this issue. I will address the recent F–14 crash in Nashville and its implications for the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority. I will offer my brief comments in the form of questions and answers.

    Issue 1: Can military aircraft function safely at civilian airports? My answer: Yes, if existing rules are followed.
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    Let me point out that Nashville International Airport is the permanent station for a C–130 Air National Guard unit. Their safety record is excellent. They have operated at our airport for decades. We receive very good cooperation from them.

    Issue 2: Are more rules and guidelines needed to make the military's use of civilian airports safer?

    They may be as technology and systems change, but existing rules and guidelines ensure the safest possible use of civilian airport facilities and airspace by the military.

    Issue 3: Does there need to be closer coordination between local airport administrators and the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration?

    Coordination is excellent between the local airports, the military and Federal regulatory agencies; however, I do support the concept of periodic crisis management training sessions involving local, military and Federal agencies. Our airport does this type of training with local emergency, fire and police agencies. All parties involved in response to an aviation emergency must be prepared to work together. Advance planning always pays off when emergencies occur.

    Issue 4: What is the response to airport neighbors who charge that it is unsafe for military aircraft to use civilian airports?

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    My response is this: I understand that tragedies such as the recent F–14 crash in Nashville heighten concerns about safety among airport neighbors. The Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority is in contact with those who have been directly affected by this accident and with their elected representatives. This includes able leaders like Congressman Clement, Councilman Hall, and our mayor, Philip Bredesen.

    I would express the following to those involved: I think that the families and neighbors of the crash victims feel a profound sense of loss. I know they are afraid. I know they are angry. I know they want to find out what went wrong.

    I want them to know that everyone at the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority understands their questions and their response.

    I would also say that we cannot change the facts: We depend upon airplanes for travel and commerce. We depend upon airplanes for our Nation's defense. Aviation is the safest of all modes of public transportation, but tragic accidents do occur.

    The use of military aircraft at civilian airports is carefully regulated, but pilot error does occur. These hard facts do not diminish the anguish of the families, friends and those of us in the aviation industry.

    I would also point out that aviation personnel—both on the ground and in the air—are among the most highly trained, safety-conscious and regulated professionals in our society.

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    I would assure those who live near airports that we will continue to work diligently with everyone involved to avoid future accidents.

    Issue 5: What specifically should be done by the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and other Federal agencies to ensure the continued safe operation of military aircraft at civilian airports?

    The department of the Navy, in my view, did an excellent job in responding to the questions raised in the aftermath of the F–14 crash in Nashville. Their study cites pilot error. I believe them. They also have clearly stated those steps that will be taken in training and operations to reduce the possibility of future tragedies. I believe that they mean what they say. I feel that they have made an appropriate response in a very short period of time. In short, I do not think new regulations are needed.

    As I stated earlier, I would recommend that periodic training sessions be conducted to coordinate the local military and Federal response to aviation emergencies.

    In closing, I would like to thank the Subcommittee on Aviation for this opportunity to comment on an issue of great importance to the City of Nashville and many other communities throughout the Nation. I have confidence that the work of this committee will serve to enhance air transportation safety in Nashville and other cities. I stand ready to assist each of you in whatever manner required as you proceed in your deliberations.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, General Moore.

    Next we will hear from Councilman Durwood Hall.

    Councilman Hall.

    Mr. HALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the subcommittee. It is a pleasure for me to be here, unfortunately under a rather bad situation.

    The tragic events surrounding the F–14 crash in our community have all but been forgotten by many persons throughout this Nation, many of us who are often guilty of loss of awareness after the sensationalism wears off.

    Unfortunately for those most directly affected, this tragedy lives on in their minds and their memories. The family members relive that tragic day, and they have to wonder why. The neighborhood which cried out for help prior to this incident, including Mr. Newsom on numerous occasions, feels assured that they were correct in their concerns about aircraft safety and the traffic that is causing duress in their own neighborhood environment. The continuing overflights stimulates their memories to that tragic day and instills in them again only a new height of fear that they have always had by living in the proximity that they do to the Nashville International Airport.

    The tragedy, its cause and effects on all concerned parties should demand all of our total energies and abilities to right a situation that should have never happened.

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    We should secure our strength and energies to the families of the pilot, to the Newsoms, the Wairs and to the neighborhood which hasn't as of yet had their own closure, but instead has only experienced heightened anxiety by continued overflights in their neighborhood.

    Those who are policymakers dealing with operation and expansion of airports have a responsibility to address these concerns. I submit this responsibility lies both at the Federal and the local level.

    I will not speak at great length to the committee; I know there is more technical ability than I. I disagree with some who have said that the military can operate in an efficient manner out of general aviation-type airfields. In this particular case, it brings to mind a situation that for Campbell, Kentucky, home of the 101st Airborne, is probably less than 15 minutes flying time for the F–14 from Nashville. This pilot was there for a weekend. It would hardly seem anything beyond reasoning for me for a military aircraft that was going to be in a situation for a weekend, 74 hours, that that aircraft could be landed and taken off at a military facility.

    I think as a policy recommendation, I feel like that unless it is something that it is of a major nature in the military that demands immediate—more proximate locations of landings and takeoffs into a metropolitan area, if it is within the scope of reasonability that they can look at a 45-, 50-mile facility that is an air base, a military base of some nature, all of the facilities can be accommodated there and certainly can eliminate the potential for this to occur again in the United States.

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    I appreciate the opportunity to speak before you, and if I am capable of answering any questions, I stand ready to do so.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Well, we will have some questions in a few minutes, Councilman Hall, but your recommendations sound reasonable to me, and I want to say also that we—I know how many demands are made on the time of someone who serves on the City Council, and it is awfully good of you to come this distance to represent your constituents sort of above and beyond the call of ordinary duty. Thank you for being with us.

    Mr. HALL. Thank you.

    Mr. DUNCAN. The next witness will be Ms. Angelia Newsom.

    And Ms. Newsom, you may begin your testimony.

    Ms. NEWSOM. Thank you, sir.

    I am here with my brother, Mike and we are two of the five children of Ada and Elmer Newsom. Our parents died 4 months ago today, on January 29, 1996, when a Navy F–14 Tomcat made an illegal and unsafe takeoff from Nashville International Airport.

    None of us should be here today. There should be no need to conduct any hearings regarding a crash that should never have happened. If the Navy aircrew had followed regulations and exercised military discipline and bearing, we would not have to meet here today.

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    If the Navy chain of command had exercised good judgment and had removed a weak pilot from operating a high-performance aircraft, we wouldn't have to be here today. If the Navy pilot had not elected to perform a risky flight maneuver to impress his parents, we would not have to be here today.

    Unfortunately, on January 29, 1996, the crew and the entire Navy chain of command caused the unnecessary deaths of your our parents.

    The Navy has concluded that the pilot became spatially disoriented and lost control of his airplane, causing the incineration of three homes and the unnecessary deaths of three civilians. Along with my parents, their friend, Ewing Wair, Senior, who was visiting at their home on that morning, died also. Our niece, who was 6 months pregnant, went into premature labor at the horror of this tragedy and subsequently lost her child.

    The official Navy investigation has now been released. The Navy admits that the deaths of our parents were preventable and totally unnecessary. The Navy concluded that a weak pilot, with a history of safety infractions, was allowed to continue on flight status because of the negligence of his superior officers.

    Our family, the Wair family, and the dozens of neighbors and friends who have been traumatized by this tragic event want three things: number one, we want to know all of the facts and the circumstances that led to the crash of the F–14 on that day. Number two, we want to know what the Navy and the Pentagon is doing to prevent this type of occurrence at other civilian airports around the country. Number three, we want full and fair restitution for the physical, emotional and psychological losses which we have all suffered as a consequence of the deaths of these good people.
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    We are here today in our parent's honor, to speak for them because they are no longer able to speak for themselves. We ask this committee to investigate closely this incident, and to make appropriate recommendations so that the deaths of our parents will not be in vain, and that specific measures will be put in place.

    We also urge this committee to use its influence with the Navy Judge Advocate General's office, to urge prompt compensation for the victims of this tragedy, so that we may go about trying to rebuild our lives.

    Thank you.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Ms. Newsom. And I can assure you that every Member certainly sympathizes with your tremendous loss.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Next we will hear from Traci Wair.

    Ms. WAIR. Thank you.

    My name is Traci Wair. I am the daughter of Ewing Wair, Senior. My father died on January 29, 1996 when a Navy F–14 Tomcat jet crashed into the home of Elmer and Ada Newsom. At the time of the crash my father was visiting with the Newsoms.

    My brother, Ewing, who is not here today, Ewing Wair, Jr., and I cannot explain to you the utter horror of finding out late that afternoon that our father was literally incinerated in this crash. Our family, the Newsom family, the people in our neighborhood and the rest of the people in this country have a right to know the whole truth about why this happened, and we have an obligation to do everything possible to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
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    We want to know why our father needlessly died. My brother and I can provide the Navy with a dozen reasons why a high-performance takeoff maneuver should not have been conducted on January 29. But the Navy cannot provide us with one reason to justify performance of such a high-risk maneuver.

    High-risk flight maneuvers should not be permitted at or near civilian airports. Any benefit from performing such maneuvers is far outweighed by the associated risks.

    We ask this committee to closely scrutinize, question and investigate this tragedy of the F–14 and its engines, pilot performance, to the fullest extent, to determine the root cause for this problem and to ensure that Naval aviation is changed in such a fashion so that safety is of paramount concern in any flight mission and that needless deaths never again occur as the result of reckless flying and disregard for human life. The only way to ensure that this type of accident doesn't reoccur is to prohibit high-performance takeoffs at civilian airports, and/or retire the F–14s with the TF 30 engine.

    Thank you.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Ms. Wair. And certainly, all of us on this committee have lost loved ones, and you certainly have our condolences as well.

    We are honored to have with us at this time the former longtime Chairman of this subcommittee, now the Ranking Member on the full committee, and probably a person who is regarded as one of the real aviation—leading aviation experts in this country, and a man who has made his career emphasizing aviation safety, and that is Congressman Oberstar from Minnesota.
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    I would like to turn to him at this time for any statement that he wishes to make and any questions that he might have of this panel.

    Mr. Oberstar.

    Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    I think this—I appreciate your very kind words, and in turn, I must say that you have taken the mantle of leadership in aviation and done exceedingly well, and have led this committee in the very appropriate and judicious manner that you have demonstrated throughout your career.

    I also want to thank our colleague, Mr. Clement, for urging upon the subcommittee the holding of this hearing, and for his genuine concern for his constituents and especially for those who are bereaved by the tragedies we have just heard in this very touching testimony. I think the hearing will shed light on how our military aircraft operate in civilian-controlled airspace, and in our civilian air traffic control system.

    Our hearts and prayers certainly, along with those of Mr. Clement and Mr. Duncan, go out to all who have suffered in this tragedy, especially those survivors. I know only too well from an experience I had with Pan Am 103, meeting literally hundreds of people who lost loved ones in that tragedy.

    The Navy investigation revealed pilot error resulting from the pilot's experience with vertigo during an aerobatic maneuver not authorized, but which he nonetheless undertook shortly after takeoff. There are firmly established procedures between FAA and the Defense Department regarding military use of predominantly civilian airports.
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    This pilot violated those procedures, it seems, from the investigation so far conducted. What we need to know and what will become apparent through this hearing is what the Navy is doing to ensure that maneuvers of this type are not performed in the airspace where it is not appropriate for those maneuvers to be undertaken.

    A question we need to know the answer to is has there been any analysis as to how routine and appropriate maneuvers in airspace not appropriate for those maneuvers are, how often does this kind of thing occur, and to curtail such activities. In the end, the product of this hearing will not be to return the lives lost, but to let the families of the loved ones know that those lives were not lost in vain, that anything that we can do in this committee and through the energy of our Chairman and Mr. Clement, and with the full resources of our committee, that precautions will be taken so that in the future we won't have to have other witnesses come here with this tale of tragedy.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar.

    Mr. Clement.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Thank you very much, Mr. Oberstar, for your fine statement and analyzing where we are and why it is so painful for the family to be here, but so necessary as well. Because the Newsom family and the Wair family, my goodness, councilman and I, and a lot of others attended the funerals there, and I will tell you what, I have never seen so many people care so much about a family than these two families, because people truly rallied around them. And you have a big family and a lot, a lot of friends.
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    General Moore, I want to ask you a few questions first. One has to do with authority.

    Whose authority is it to determine what maneuvers or procedures should be followed at each airport? Is it the Airport Authority, the DOD, the FAA? Who?

    General MOORE. Let me start with the Airport Authority and what our responsibilities are; our responsibilities are to provide an adequate and safe facility from which aircraft can operate. Once those aircraft get into the takeoff position on a runway and proceed to takeoff, they are then the responsibility of the FAA. And, of course, as far as the military departments are concerned, the training and the discipline which is instilled in those aircrews to follow the rules at each airport from which they fly come into play. But it is the FAA who has the authority to authorize a takeoff from an airport and the type of takeoff that will be.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Now, I know, General, you have heard a lot of ideas or thoughts or options that may be available to us now, but it was my understanding that right after the crash occurred, that you did ask for some restrictions, for some further regulation concerning takeoffs. Were you referring to the fact that there may have been a high-performance takeoff or an unrestricted climb? What were you referring to, General Moore?

    General MOORE. I was referring to a high-performance takeoff. The report, initial report which I received after this accident occurred was that this aircrew, this pilot, had been authorized to make a high-performance takeoff. My reaction to that was to contact the FAA locally at the tower and request that they deny any requests from military aircraft for a high-performance takeoff at Nashville International Airport.
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    Subsequently I learned that the FAA had not authorized a high-performance takeoff. That is the controllers in the tower had not authorized that, but rather had authorized an unrestricted climb, which is considerably different from the high-performance or aerobatic maneuver that had been reported to me initially.

    Mr. CLEMENT. You mentioned, General Moore, the need for interagency periodic training sessions to prepare for emergencies such as the Nashville crash. Can you comment further on your ideas and why this is important?

    General MOORE. Well, it is important I think in any metropolitan area which has a lot of aircraft operating around it, military and civilian. If an airliner, for example, as has happened in some places around the country, should crash, in an area like that, the emergency requirements become rather extreme.

    RFA military aircraft crashes, the emergency requirements become extreme. That is, people have to react quickly, not only to try to reduce injuries and save lives, but also to confine the area of the impact as much as they can, and this crash, the fire rescue and metropolitan fire department were able to do that with the F–14 crash by getting on the scene very quickly.

    But that takes planning, it takes communication, it requires understanding on the part of each one of the players in that kind of emergency response, what their task is, what their resources are, so that their response can be more automatic. The planning has been done in advance, the coordination has been done in advance, and that kind of planning and action can save lives and reduce injuries.
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    Mr. CLEMENT. Councilman Hall, I know we have worked on a lot of different projects together in and around the airport, and I look at a councilman, particularly you, as someone who is truly on the front lines. And you are, because anything that happens, one plane flies over, or whatever happens, they know where to find you and find you quick, whether they call you on the telephone or come through the door.

    Is the anxiety still there? And what are the problems in your area now?

    I guess I am making it as broad as we want to make it when it comes to aviation problems and the concerns that you have for the future, particularly with Nashville's tremendous growth now.

    Mr. HALL. Well, I appreciate the question very much; it was interesting as I sat and listened to other testimony about the criteria, restriction and policy of certain departments of government, FAA in particular. And the biggest problem, and I addressed it in my opening remarks to an extent, this particular area is less than a mile from the center line of the extended 2–C runway that was just opened in May of 1994. The FAA established their Part 150, which is a Neighborhood Compatibility Study in 1990, prior to completion of all of the runways at the National International Airport Facility.

    This particular neighborhood, unfortunately, was not included in this airport compatibility program because it lacked the LDN or decimal levels required in that threshold to enter into it. And actually, some of the monitoring has indicated that it is within about 4/10 of 1 percent of being at that 65 LDN threshold to be acknowledged.
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    It is ironic that those problems—and the General and I have worked on these—but, you know, sometimes the common person that we represent in all of our lives has an untapped wealth of knowledge, and I think sometimes in some of their concerns they tell us some things that we don't really grab and hold on to as much as we should.

    There have been 343 complaints off the south end of that international airport over the area that I represent since the extension of the 2–C runway. This is a headline out of the paper that happened the day after this crash in Nashville on the 29th of January.

    Mr. Newsom and I, that is how we got to know each other, mostly by phone, but certainly by knocking on the door and discussing our problems. Those people feel like and I feel like they have been neglected.

    The system has worked around them, because the system worked good to accept a particular takeoff, it worked good to allow military on to certain airfields, but yet the same criteria within 4/10 of 1 percent of allowing these people into a noise compatibility study won't work. And I think that is a major problem.

    Any time you live in and around a growing airport facility, those are the problems that exist. And Nashville International, as you know, Congressman, is built in a city and a region of about 1,400,000 people, and that is the biggest concern right now, other than trying to reach some satisfaction.

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    I know Mike Newsom and I speak quite often, that hopefully his parents and Mr. Wair didn't leave this earth and leave it in a vain effort, that there is something we all can do. And I think Mr. Newsom certainly was one, that he was concerned about the air traffic, he was concerned about his neighbors and their public safety, and I am sure another level and another meeting I will be able to work harder on that.

    But I want to reiterate again how much I appreciate the opportunity to be here and for you to ask that question, because it is a major concern for those people in Nashville.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you, Councilman.

    Ms. Newsom, it is great having you here, and I know it is hard for you to travel all the way here, but we are not going to forget your mother and daddy, and what they mean to us, and I know you got Mike here as well, and I am sure you all represent the whole family today.

    How would you like for your mother and father to be remembered?

    Ms. NEWSOM. Oh, gosh, I think everybody is going to remember them in their own way as two of the most wonderful friends they ever had, wonderful parents, just very, very special people. They were just wonderful people, and an awful lot of people miss them.

    Mr. CLEMENT. And Traci Wair, good to have you here. I know you have got some other people with you.
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    Would you introduce them as well?

    Ms. WAIR. My fiancee, Don Spartman.

    Mr. CLEMENT. And who else do you have with you?

    Ms. WAIR. My attorney.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Okay, good.

    Well, good to have all of you here.

    Is there anything you would like to say more about Ewing and his life.

    Ms. WAIR. He died senselessly, and there is so much I want to say, I don't know where to start.

    Mr. CLEMENT. Sure.

    Well, I think all of you said it very well. And you know, I think it says a lot for you all to just be here to keep their name alive and make sure accidents like this don't happen other places. You never know by just testifying today, just bringing it to the attention of elected representatives from across the country—and as you know, there will be a Congressional Record of everything that was said today, which will be shared with the other Members whereby they know what happened in Nashville so we can continue to move forward and try to ensure that other people don't experience the kind of pain that you had to experience.
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    But I congratulate you for having such a wonderful family and wonderful roots and loving people that loved others and were no doubt very, very unselfish people.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you, Mr. Clement.

    Thank you, Bob, for requesting this hearing and for helping secure these outstanding witnesses. I was just sitting here thinking, you know, we have all seen so much violence on television and we have read about so many bad things happening to people in recent years, and it seems to get worse with each passing year. And I think—I am a little concerned that maybe we are becoming a little calloused and hardened, and we don't appreciate the lives of individuals as much as we used to and as much as we should, and we maybe don't have quite as much sympathy for people as we used to have until something—until you go through something like this personally yourself. And I think it is kind of a shame.

    We certainly appreciate all of you coming and being with us today, and we appreciate your testimony.

    Councilman Hall, it is not easy to represent a district with an airport in it; is it? I know you consider it an honor and a privilege, but it is also a difficult thing, because you try to represent your citizens as best you can and sometimes you don't get your way all the time; do you?

    Mr. HALL. Well, I appreciate that.

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    And let me say this, that the man sitting to my left, we had a laugh in the Congressman's office earlier. We haven't had the fortune, I don't guess good fortune to be on the same side many times, but we have remained friends and I can with all due sincerity tell you that I don't think there is a better operator president of any Airport Authority anywhere in the United States than General Moore. I am sure we can work through the problems, but I wish he would just hurry up and help me.

    Mr. DUNCAN. Well, General Moore has a good reputation. And I know he—or I feel certain that he has tried to help out in this situation as much as possible.

    But, Ms. Newsom and Ms. Wair, we certainly appreciate your being here and we certainly are sorry for the tragedies that you have been through.

    Thank you very much for being with us.

    And that will conclude this hearing.

    [Whereupon, at 3:55 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]

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