FAA: Ready to kill passengers to keep them safe

The FAA is ready to kill passengers in an effort to keep them safe.  Sounds idiotic?  Absolutely, but that’s exactly what the FAA is essentially saying with a new ruling that airlines must remove emergency oxygen from bathrooms on board planes.  With Air Worthiness Directive 2011-04-09, the FAA has decided that in the name of passenger safety, they’ll be prepared to sacrifice a few lives.

From the MSNBC.com report:

“I’m in shock,” said Kate Hanni, executive director of Flyersrights.org, a nonprofit airline passengers’ rights organization. “We get reports of mid-air decompression events all the time. So now going to the bathroom on a commercial flight can kill you? I’m panicking just thinking about this.”

Although rapid decompression is rare, it does happen. In October, for example, oxygen masks were deployed on an American Airlines flight enroute from Miami to Boston after the cabin lost pressure when a two-foot hole tore open in the plane’s fuselage. The crew declared an emergency, and the plane safely returned to Miami. Passengers were panicked, but no one was injured.

But under the FAA’s new directive, any passengers who happen to be in the airplane restroom should such an event occur would no longer have immediate access to oxygen.

The FAA, like so many other government agencies, is using the specter of potential terrorism to justify this.  They claim that a terrorist could use the emergency oxygen to start a fire or create an explosion mid flight despite zero intelligence that they’ve even thought about doing this.

The FAA claims it’s working on a new oxygen delivery method that is secure from terrorist-tampering.  In the mean time, they say, the crew is already trained to drop altitude so folks should be fine.  Of course, MSNBC.com found someone who disagrees with them.  From the above linked report:

But Arthur Alan Wolk, an aviation safety expert and licensed jet pilot, said: “Part of the idea of the oxygen mask dropping from the ceiling during loss of cabin pressure is to keep the occupants of the main cabin alive until an airplane gets down to a breathable altitude. By eliminating the source of oxygen for the unlucky souls in the bathroom, you’ve just killed those people.”

Yeah.  This is a great freaking idea.

It’s worth noting that a loss of oxygen doesn’t kill automatically, but prolonged lack of oxygen can lead to brain damage before it kills you.  Theoretically, it’s possible to survive the loss of oxygen during cabin decompression but be severely brain damaged.  At that point, you get to go to work for the FAA thinking up new ways to keep passengers safe.

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