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FAA Chief Says There Have Been More Near-Miss Incidents Than Expected

What sounded like lip service from the government might actually be a referendum on the U.S. aviation industry.

In an extraordinary admission, acting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Billy Nolen told NBC’s Lester Holt ahead of Wednesday’s Safety Summit that you would be surprised at the number of near misses and near collisions that have taken place.


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This goes beyond the ones that were reported.

Nolen said that while it remains safe to fly, officials have grown concerned as they have begun “to see things that we don’t expect to see.”

“We expect every flight to operate as it should and so we’ve had these events over the past few weeks. That gives us a moment to say, ‘Let’s stop. Let’s reflect. Let’s ask ourselves the question: Are we missing anything? Is there anything that we should be doing differently?’ And remind ourselves always that we can never become complacent and never take this incredible safety record for granted.”

There have been several near-misses on runways and in the air, not to mention a spate of onboard incidents and physical altercations of late.

“We’ve seen over this last few months more than you’d expect to see,” Nolen told Holt. “Maybe you have an average of one or two per month…(The FAA) has zero tolerance for unruly behavior. And we will indeed use every tool and every resource at our disposal when someone interferes with a cabin or cockpit crew member.”

“We will go for civil penalties and federal prosecution where warranted. My suggestion to you is to stay home because if you act up in flight, we’re going to come after you,” he added.

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