Air carriers honored for safety

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Eight Alaska air carriers were recognized Thursday for safety programs and standards exceeding those required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Using FAA grant money secured by U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, the Medallion Foundation has established a voluntary program that focuses on establishing high aviation safety standards.

Forty-seven carriers in Alaska are participating in the foundation's ''five star program,'' said executive director Jerry Dennis.

To get five stars, carriers must establish a strict, internal safety program; have a flight-simulator program; establish a system that provides analytical tools and a system of checks and balances to manage flight risks and hazards; beef up maintenance and ground service; and establish an internal audit program.

Carriers are recognized even for getting one star. Only one of those recognized Thursday, Peninsula Airways, got all five.

Alaska Airlines received four stars. ERA Aviation got three; Frontier Flying Service and Warbelow's Air Venture got two each. Conoco Phillips Shared Services Aviation, Spernak Airways and Northern Air Cargo each got one star.

The foundation started in May 2002 and now has eight employees. Carriers are recognized after a year of compliance.

Stevens, R-Alaska, helped start the Medallion Foundation, securing $3 million in FAA money during budget year 2002, and another $1.5 million this year. So far, Dennis said, the foundation has used money to place seven flight simulators across the state and provide about 4,500 hours of safety training as well one-on-one safety instruction to participants.

''Past efforts by the FAA to mandate higher safety requirements in Alaska, we all remember, have met a storm of protest,'' Stevens said. ''I hope the rest of the country will follow Alaska. The industry here is bringing positive change about by itself and working with the FAA instead of under the FAA.''

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said the Medallion program is unlike anything else in the country and she hopes to see it spread to other areas.

''What you're doing here is very pioneering work,'' she told about 200 aviation industry participants during a ceremony at the Aviation Heritage Museum in Anchorage.

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