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Commentary Last Updated: Aug 17th, 2006 - 02:35:54

Four LAX glitches in a month blamed on FAA. Uh-oh!
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Aug 16, 2006, 01:12

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If I were the operators of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), if I were a Los Angelino, if I were a Californian, I�d be (1) pissed (2) worried and (3) ready to go to war with the FAA (Federal Aeronautics mis-Administration). And, as a New Yorker who saw a huge piece of his city destroyed on 9/11, as an American who saw that event used to lead us into the international War on Terror, I am both concerned if not horrified about what�s going on at LAX.

Forget about the idiot terror alert exported from London last week that had millions believing liquid bombs were the next big thing on the WOT horizon. The reality of �liquid bombs� as told at Brasscheck TV is that, �Yes, it�s possible to combine acetone, hydrogen peroxide and an acid to make triacetone triperoxide (TATP), the so-called �liquid bomb� scenario. But, according to Brasscheck, it�s what I-D-I-O-T-S do when they want to make their own homemade explosives� (and often end up blowing up themselves and their homes).

�TATP is an extremely unstable substance prone to explode unexpectedly�and it requires refrigeration of 10 C or less to be manufactured with any degree of reliability. The idea that this process could be carried out in the cramped washroom of an airliner is fanciful at best. That this feat could realistically be accomplished on ten different airplanes simultaneously is as likely as the US government�s 9-11 story or the UK London�s government�s 7-7 story.

�If this plot is evidence of al-Qaeda�s ability to launch sophisticated attacks against the freedom-loving West, then we have nothing to worry about.� But what is going on at LAX is something that should be of concern and the cause for immediate action because it stinks. Here is a list of events the LA Times prepared for its story linked in the first paragraph . . .

Three FAA air traffic control systems malfunctioned in Southern California in the last month. Here's a rundown of what the systems do and how they failed.

July 18: A surge protection system designed to protect backup generators from power spikes failed at an FAA communications center in Palmdale. The facility that directs high-altitude traffic lost power for two hours and controllers briefly were unable to see or talk with pilots.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the power outage that affected airports throughout Southern California. Controllers have been using the backup power system a number of times since the outage without a problem. It was used as a precaution when there was high demand on the main power grid. Yet Palmdale controllers handling high-altitude flights completely lost communication with pilots for several minutes on July 18 after the backup power system inexplicably went down.

That�s all the time needed for tragedy. Did any homebody with a terror agenda have a hand in that?

July 26: The aural alarm on ground radar equipment designed to alert controllers in the LAX tower to potential collisions was shut off after the system put out a false alert, minutes before a turboprop narrowly missed a regional jet that had strayed too close to its runway. Controllers could still see airplanes on the screen.

Again, this near crash occurs just a week and a day after the surge protection system failed.

Aug. 7: An instrument landing system on LAX's south airfield that sends radio beams into cockpits to help pilots orient themselves to the runway shut itself off after the signal was interrupted. FAA officials don't know what caused the malfunction. Flights were delayed for the rest of the day. The south airfield helps pilots land on foggy days and was out for three and a half hours. This delayed dozens of flights for over 90 minutes.

Who or what Merry Prankster interrupted the signal? We know how desperate some folks in DC are for some major �terror� disaster to happen. So desperate they came up with the liquid bomb fiasco, a direct lift from the Project Bojinka event, exposed in January 1995 when Philippine police arrested and tortured Abdul Hakim Murad in a Manila apartment where bomb-making equipment was found. He told them of plans to plant timed explosive devices on 11 US airliners simultaneously, and to crash-land an airplane into CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Monday Aug.14: The instrument landing system failed for a second time. So we have a dry run then a repeat?

In fact, imagine all this occurring in less than a month. Remember also that the City of Los Angeles runs LAX. But the FAA is responsible for maintaining air traffic control equipment. So what�s happening, FAA? Get your act together. Unfortunately, the malfunctioning instrument landing system has forced LAX to shut down that runway.

Coincidentally, there is a huge construction project going on at the airport�s south side. Hundreds of trucks work the airfield each day just yards from the runway where the troublesome landing system is. This project includes the closure of the southernmost runway in order that workers can move it 55 feet closer to El Segundo. This event caused neither outage, but it puts the second of the four runways out of operation. Operations were able to continue smoothly with just three runways. Two runways is another story, a dangerous story. The FAA and LAX should know this.

Add to that the fact that planes are running close to 100 percent of capacity. Now we have all the ingredients for a major catastrophe, which could so easily be labeled �a terror attack.� It seems to me a golden opportunity for the wrong people to make something happen, just as they did on 9/11 by having five parallel terror drills going on.

Remember 9/11 and New Orleans

These drills filled the air controllers screens with dozens of planes. When the hits occurred, controllers were often baffled as to which was a real hit and which a faux event. The drills also drained most of our fighter planes from the area and sent them as far as Alaska and northern Canada, leaving some four planes to handle the Eastern Seaboard. So it�s not hard for a few bad apples at the top to spoil the barrel right to the bottom. That�s my concern. That and how even a legitimate LAX catastrophe will inject even more fear and paranoia into our society.

I mean today Los Angeles, tomorrow Chicago, the day after Dallas, and then what do we do? I�d say call the Department of Homeland Security, but that�s no solution. It�s a useless bureaucracy, sucking billions of dollars into the hands of inept suppliers. What did it or the administration do for New Orleans? Watch it drown? Send a billion dollars worth of trailer homes to sit in empty fields with no infrastructure to use them.

So LA, wake up! Take matters into your own hands. And if the FAA doesn�t fix its equipment, shut the goddamn airport down and make everyone stop, look and listen to what�s going on. Don�t wait until you have a disaster on your hands and somebody�s pointing a finger at you.

In 2004, the Army Corp of Engineers presented George Bush with a $14 billion project spaced over 30 years to repair and shore up New Orleans' levees. He cut the number to $2 billion over 10 years for the most promising projects, whatever that meant. We all know the result and the consequent expenditures. Don�t let this happen to you, LA. It�s not worth the cost of another bad movie like Flight 93 or World Trade Center to lamely try to explain it.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at

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