China Airlines #18 and the FAA-From a Mistake to the Absurd

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“Alan headshot Image”

I enjoyed reading Mike Leidemann (Honolulu Advertiser Transportation Writer) article in the Feb. 9th, Sunday Advertiser headlined “Residents correct on low-flying jet.” This is in reference to the China Airlines flight #18 on Jan. 4th that flew over Honolulu at 6:44 a.m. I believe that China Airlines pilot made a honest mistake and is not the subject of my comments.


I would like to also add some observations to his article and also reverence the following map posted by the Advertiser and supplied by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Originally the FAA reported that the China Airlines flight never went over land, but the flight path shows that it flew over Diamond Head, the Ala Wai Canal, Piikoi/Young Street, down South King Street, and over Waterfront Towers at an altitude of 1500 feet (3/10ths of a mile) to 900 feet (2/10ths of a mile). What I find amazing is the FAA was clueless (short for when in doubt, deny everything), about the actual flight and proceeded to discredited the residents of Honolulu with their visual and audio observations. The article said that a resident of Puulei Circle was too scared to get out of bed, I’ll concur, from the flight path map, the 747 flew a half mile from my home on Punchbowl and about 700 feet above my home. I figured that when the plane hit the ground, I would rather be lying down, so I hid under the covers with my cats.

The other observation is the FAA later stated, “The plane’s approach over land violated local custom and written guidelines used by Honolulu air traffic controllers, but did not break any laws or regulations, said FAA spokesman Paul Turk.” In other words, flights can continue to take this path. Wouldn’t it be better to say, “We haven’t change the permissible flight path in 40 years, but will now change it immediately.”

We are in a period of national heavy handedness of government in the interest of national security. Let’s not forget common sense, for the people and government agencies that still have some left.