Near misses aside, air travel remains safe. Most members of Congress spend a lot of time flying, and Wisconsin Representative Tom Petri, who chairs the House aviation subcommittee, said the Federal Aviation Authority and the aviation industry are always looking for ways to make air travel safer. “One of the things is to encourage pilots and air traffic controllers and others involved in the system, if there’s a mistake or what could turn into a disaster, to report it,” he said.
Statistically, air travel is already much safer than driving, despite the attention given individual accidents and incidents like this week’s near miss involving jets at Washington’s Reagan National Airport. “Commercial aviation in the United States is safer than it’s ever been” said Petri. “Of course, we always feel insecure when we get into a tube and fly through the air.”
The Fond du Lac Republican said safety will continue to improve as the national air traffic control system is modernized. Still, even he admits to a little nervousness. “I frankly am always watchful as it takes off and lands. My reason tells me it’s safe, and statistics tell me it’s safe. But there’s always a little concern there, to be honest about it.”
One of Petri’s House colleagues from Wisconsin, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, was in an airliner that experienced a near miss two years ago.