Washington, D.C.—At a Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to provide oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the Subcommittee, pressed FAA officials to describe steps they are taking to increase safety at the Presque Isle International Airport following an accident involving a United Airlines plane earlier this year.
On March 4, 2019, an Embraer 145 jet operated by CommuteAir missed the runway at Presque Isle Airport, leaving several people with minor injuries and damaging the plane.
“I know that you've been instrumental in helping the [Presque Isle] Airport to secure some funds for better snow removal equipment. But we have a problem when you have a severe weather condition in a small airport like that,” said Senator Collins. “Could you provide us with an update on what else the FAA is exploring to improve the safety of this regional airport?”
“The FAA has in fact made satellite based procedures available at the airport. And so we're also currently continuing our investigation of this particular accident and looking and working with our air traffic partners, working with the actual operators, the NTSB, and other parts of the FAA to determine what were all of the causal factors in this particular accident,” responded Ms. Winsome Lenfert, the Deputy Associate Administrator for Airports at the FAA. “In the meantime we're actually working with the airport to prepare them for this upcoming winter season. As you mentioned, we've worked with them to procure additional snow removal equipment as well as worked with them on their aircraft rescue and firefighting. Once the final investigation is completed, we will continue to work with them as we do all airports to ensure that they have a safe and efficient operation.”
Earlier this year, Senator Collins held a hearing and invited Secretary Elaine Chao to testify. Senator Collins raised the Presque Isle incident, and the Secretary committed to working with her to improve the safety at the airport.