Monday, October 7, 2013

F-35: comparing "apples and pumpkins"

Burlington VT has had an activist part of their community that has been fighting the possible basing of F-35s there for years.  There's an interesting article at a Vermont news site that gives good examples of how critics will play with facts to turn them into talking points that, if dissected, will be found to not support the critical contention.  For instance here's an Air Guard officer addressing their concerns:
“The critics of the F-35 are using flawed assumptions to incorrectly present safety concerns to our community,” Caputo said.

These assumptions, he said, include selectively using data from the EIS and not understanding the meaning of a “class A” mishap, which does not always involve an injury.

The Final EIS defines a class A mishap, which are the most severe variety, as an accident involving property damage totaling $2 million or more or a fatality or permanent disability. However, Caputo said this is not synonymous with a “crash.”

To provide another perspective on the safety record of military aircrafts operated by the Guard, Caputo compared the safety record of the F-16s with commercial aircraft at the airport.

Using data from the U.S. Air Force, the National Transportation Safety Board, Burlington International Airport and Air National Guard safety statistics, Caputo said the airport’s commercial aircraft are 8.5 times more likely to have an accident than the planes used by the Guard, such as the F-16. 
One of the critics claims that is like comparing "apples and pumpkins" since F-16s and so different than commercial aircraft.   But we're talking about a commercial airport that hosts an Air Guard squadron that flies F-16s and the critics claim to be concerned about safety.  So if you can show factually that the highest safety risk to the airport is actually the commercial traffic, why is that like "apples and pumpkins?"

Because to admit it isn't a bad comparison is inconvenient to the overall argument of the critic, of course.  With safety being the common denominator, the safety record of the F-16 (being flown now by the Guard unit) and the commercial aircraft that land there seems pretty "apples to apples" to me.


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