Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Butt Out

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Ben Gurion AirportI feel for you Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, I really do. Israel is getting its ass bombed off and you are understandably upset, which makes it all the more surprising that your objection to the FAA’s no-fly advisory for Ben Gurion is such a big item on your agenda.

Ben Gurion is admittedly the safest airport in the world. El Al is the safest airline. Hell, they even have missile countermeasures — though your spokespeople usually don’t explain they are for different kinds of missiles than those from the Hamas Air Force and not nearly as effective as your average military airplane’s.

Making it Rain

Yes, Ben Gurion hasn’t been hit even with all the unguided rockets falling like rain — but then, neither has the Temple on the Mount.

Yes, you have Iron Dome and it is accurate 90% or 84% or somewhere considerably south of that depending on who you ask. I understand you didn’t shoot the latest rocket down because it was a whole mile away, but for comparison that is a few feet short of the halfway point on Ben Gurion’s runway. You say it is safe enough for you and Michael Bloomberg to fly, but that doesn’t carry much weight when a fighter pilot going into combat is willing to do it even if I might not. Safety is a relative thing.

I’ve been around aviation most of my life. My father was a bush pilot and air traffic controller. I have over 1000 hours in the air myself and have worked as a controller for a short time. I carry an airman’s certificate and have worked closely with the FAA developing aircraft maintenance standards for air carrier and personal aircraft. I’m familiar with how the FAA weighs danger and how it mitigates it. I’ve even been to Ben Gurion several times. That very large military base chock-a-block with juicy targets just across the airport from the passenger terminal is impressive… and tempting. That’s one reason El Al uses countermeasures in fact. The get shot at.

But you know what? Even with all my experience, I’d fly to Ben Gurion without batting an eye.  I would have flown over the Ukraine without a thought. In fact, I think 9/11 was probably the safest day in the history of American aviation to fly. But I have a lot of experience to base my decisions on and even after losing engines and being in near misses, I’m not a Nervous Nelly about flying.

On the other hand, your average airline passenger knows almost nothing and is completely at the mercy of aviation professionals from pilots and air traffic controllers to baggage handlers and fueling crews. All those wise things you hear Road Warriors say about flying? More often than not, seriously uninformed bullshit spewed over a teeny-tiny Tom Collins with a teeny-tiny side of honey-roasted peanuts. The risk tolerance for normal passengers is not the same as mine, nor should it be.

But Bennie the expert, who generally flies on specially cleared airways, escorted by F-15s with their own deadly accurate missiles, is in no position to criticize the FAA. His minions are in no position to criticize the FAA either. His opinion about the FAA’s proven safety precautions, used by most of the world, means as much as the feigned expertise of the drunken Road Warriors.

Netanyahu, Israeli Credibility Isn’t at Stake

It is not a political ploy by the FAA to damage Israeli credibility or their economy. Its purpose is not to hand Hamas a victory. Nor is it, as Benny likes to say, “a mistake” that he is confident will be overruled by clearer heads. And before the meme starts, Obama didn’t do it to aid the Muslims, regardless of what you think about Benghazi.

It is a valid decision, made by a professional, highly respected aviation authority based on guidelines and laws laid down by a sovereign nation. It takes into account acceptable risks for its own citizens. It is a decision many other aviation authorities took and some airlines did, and will continue to take, on their own. Just because British Airways decided to keep flying doesn’t make them heroes compared to the rest of the “cowards” who won’t fly, as his aviation chief said on radio today.

This decision is not political or a mistake, it a valid assessment by experts trained to make them. The FAA, or for that matter the U.S., doesn’t exist to make you happy Bennie. It exists to protect U.S. citizens.

So Bennie, if you don’t mind, I’ll trust the FAA to make prudent decisions and thank you to butt the fuck out.

Give Us Some Choice Words