ANNOUNCEMENT / “FAA and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Reach Agreement on Airport Safety Violations” – “Settlement agreement” among Federal Aviation Administration and entity that operates LGA, JFK, EWR and Teterboro relating to aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) violations from December 2010 to June 2012 at four New York area airports. Comment: Airport managements and related municipalities and other entities should pay attention to this “public hanging” (read more below) and its price tag of a $3.5 million fine, and lengthy list of remedial action agreed to.

Announcement available here.  

There is a substantial back-story to this announcement and I don’t pretend to know fully what it is. But the agency is definitely sending a signal that all similar operators need to take seriously.

At an American Bar Association conference at which I presented a few years ago the panel of four lawyers scheduled to follow my presentation consisted of 4 past heads of the Securities & Exchange Commission’s Division of Corporate Finance – the SEC unit that oversees the disclosure of important corporate information from securities issuers to the investing public.

In an informal moment with these 4 distinguished regulators who had served presidents during the past 30 years I asked: What is a regulatory agency’s single key to being taken seriously by those it regulates?

One of the 4 said: “A public hanging”. Hearty laughter and unanimous agreement followed.

Given the prominence of the “defendant” here, it would be wise for airport operators around the country to pay attention to this “public hanging”.