An Opportunist Tramples Over A Tragedy

A group of constituents asked for the help of three Southern California Congressmen to reduce the noise of airplanes because of altered flight patterns as they land at the airports in Burbank and Van Nuys. An Aug. 28, 2019 meeting of residents only warranted attendance by staffers from the offices of the congressman, representing residents/voters affected. The long-term incumbents Sherman, Schiff and Cardenas were elsewhere.

Burbank Deputy Director of Planning and Development Patrick Lammerding suggested reasons for the southward route shift at lower altitudes include impediments like weather and heavy loads that prolong the distance planes reach 3,000 feet in elevation post-takeoff  – the threshold for getting the all-clear to turn north.

Five months later, on Jan. 30, Congressman Sherman ran with an opportunity to suggest a solution to placate, diffuse the ire of those residents; while catapulting his name alongside the victims of a tragic accident in his district. A helicopter accident which resulted in the death of nine people.

He sent out hints of a solution for aviation issues in a press release, less than 96 hours after the accident, less than 24 hours after the helicopter wreckage was removed for transport to Arizona for further investigation, less than 24 hours after the last body was recovered from the accident site, and prior to any funeral announcements for ANY of the victims.

The verbiage suggested by long-term incumbent Sherman, hinted at the resolution through a mandate to use terrain awareness systems and establishment of a commission to report to Congress on the best practices for helicopters flying in low visibility situations. He boasted his experience came from working with the Federal Aviation Administration on local aircraft noise concerns. Noise increased because of a shift in direction due to “impediments like weather and heavy loads that prolong the distance planes reach 3,000 feet in elevation post-takeoff “. Basically, the terrain.

 However, it has already been established the pilot of the Calabasas crash ignored, overrode, the fact NO LOCAL ambulance, fire or police helicopters were flying when he communicated with the air-towers. The FAA required air ambulance helicopters to install Terrain Awareness Systems (TAWS) in 2014, but the mandate did not apply to commercial flights. However, would “awareness” translate to a guarantee a pilot would not override the system?

The cost of implementing his solution is estimated at $25,000-$40,000 per helicopter BUT TAWS cannot prevent a crash on its own. It  provides, especially in low visibility situations, a detailed image of surrounding terrain and triggers auditory and visual warnings. Still the option to continue to fly rests with the pilot.

The scope of knowledge expected of a Congressman, has  expanded since the first Congress convened  in 1789, when the original members of Congress were lawyers, farmers, educators, merchants and tradesmen, physicians, judges, members of the military, and clergy. Yet this group established the need, wrote, and enacted the Bill of Rights in 1791.

How is it members of the 116th Congress, most blatantly Brad Sherman, insist on writing legislation or resolutions to benefit one segment of society or enhance an industry? Clearly it is outside of the scope of their job description. Is technology, historical records, and other resources to avert convoluted legislation not being used? Legislation is introduced which is too complex to be considered “rule of law,” cannot be conformed to without an exception, and perceived as justified by a non-existent constitutional mandate to solve every problem.

Clearly the most blatant abuser of testing the political terrain for self-aggrandizement, is the nondescript Brad Sherman from California’s 30th Congressional District. Perhaps voters might choose to ground his elevated ego.