The Burnelli Web Site
The Burnelli Conspiracy is but the tip of the Iceberg
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THE INSTITUTE FOR SAFETY IN TRANSPORTATION
P.O.Box 63 * Franklin Square * NY 11010 * 516-485-0050

Dr. Edmund J. Cantilli, PE, CSP, AICP
Executive Director


14 August 1986
James E. Burnett, Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
800 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20594

Dear Mr. Burnett:

It was gratifying to read in yesterday's NY Times of your dedication to safety, and I would like to be one of your strongest supporters. But you have turned a deaf ear to the real solution to the problem of air safety: the Burnelli Lifting Body airplane.

I believe you have been informed of the existence of the Burnelli Lifting-Body design and its great safety advantages for passengers and-crews of commercial airlines. As I recall, your response was that NTSB is not in a position to recommend airplane designs. Is this really your position? The NTSB did recommend design changes to railroad tank cars, whether during your period in office or not I do not recall [emphasis added by web-master].  Be that as it may, you cannot pass the buck on this question by stating that it is FAA 's responsibility, or (as FAA puts it) NASA's responsibility (NASA in closing the circle says it's FAA's responsibility).

I think it's your hot potato, Mr. Burnett. The advantages of this design for saving lives are so clear, so numerous' and so far-reaching, that for a person in your position to ignore these facts is unconscionable. In the attached copy of a clipping from the NEW YORK WORLD-TELEGRAM of, I believe, 1950 or thereabouts, Clyde Pangborn--you may not remember him, but I do--states, as underlined, that "sixty percent of the victims in recent air crashes would have been saved in a Burnelli-type plane". I think that my estimate, that 85% of the people who have died in commercial air crashes since 1950 would have survived in Burnelli-design aircraft, is conservative. [emphasis added by web-master] If you investigate this issue, you will find that the arguments for requiring adoption of the Burnelli design immediately are irrefutable. Mr. Cook's article states that "government officials" gave, as a reason why the Burnelli-type plane was not put into use during World War II, "a mix-up in manufacturing rights"! Can you believe that? That an airplane which General Hap Arnold called necessary to the war effort, was never adopted, in a war in which the fate of the Nation and the Free World were at stake, because of "a mix-up in manufacturing rights''? And if you do believe it, is it still a good reason for its not being used to save the lives of passengers and crewmembers on commercial flights?

I would like to believe you when you say that you will remain outspoken on safety issues; that (speaking of the 1982 Air Florida crash) you "...never wanted to feel I had not done everything I could to prevent that kind of carnage"; that you "...do not worry if I am unpopular'.. However, if you pass the buck on the Burnelli design for civilian carrier aircraft, I think your sincerity will be open to question. If you don't drag out the skeletons of the Burnelli issue, how can you remain outspoken on safety issues? If you don't demand adoption of this design, how can you accomplish anything toward prevention of air crash carnage? If you don't worry about being unpopular, why do you sidestep this issue? This is not a matter of the 'market place'; 'economics', or 'private sector' responsibility. When someone in a position to improve safety (to the degree that the Burnelli design would improve safety in air crashes), knows how to do it but does not, for whatever motive, that person's protestations of sincerity in his desire to improve safety are open to question. After all, your arguments against the adoption of the Burnelli design cannot have anything to do with the loss of business of the two major domestic aircraft manufacturers; or their costs of re-tooling; or the complaints of the airlines at having to purchase new planes. Your arguments in favor of this design would be on the side of the angels: for human survival; for reducing the risk of flying (and surviving inevitable crashes) to its lowest humanly, reasonably (and economically) possible level; and, thereby, for raising the image of the air transport industry to its highest levels.

What arguments do you have, then, against adoption of the Burnelli configuration? 'Not your responsibility' is a response unworthy of your reputation. Have you looked into this matter? Have your specialists (not FAA's; not NASA's) investigated this airplane, its history and evaluations over the 65 years of its existence? Let them explain why, when U.S. Senator Bronson M. Cutting was killed, in 1935, in a DC-2, a major shake-up in Federal aviation safety regulation took place; but when a Burnelli plane crashed while flying at 200 mph, also in 1935, and the passenger cabin was intact and the three-man crew unhurt, there was no notice taken. Had such notice been taken then, the course and image of commercial aviation would have changed considerably, especially in terms of the thousands of lives not lost. Please do not dismiss this issue out of hand; it will not go away if ignored. As the public learns of the existence of a safe design, the public will demand its adoption. You should be in the forefront of that demand.

I am sending a copy of this letter to the members of Congress from New York State; the members of Congress serving on appropriate committees; appropriate Federal Executive offices; and the major news media organizations.

Sincerely yours,

s/ Edmund J. Cantilli

 
 

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