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Entries in air traffic controller (6)

Wednesday
May022012

Two Planes in Close Call After Rookie Air Traffic Control Error

Comstock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- A Federal Aviation Administration probe into the rookie mistake of an air traffic controller, which brought two planes perilously close at Honolulu International Airport, has led to the resignation of a longtime air traffic controller.

A Japan Airlines 767 jet arriving in January to Honolulu from Tokyo and a United Parcel Service MD11 jet also coming in for a landing were involved in a near miss, only 15 miles west of the Hawaii capital, as first reported by Hawaii News Now.

The FAA now admits that because a rookie air controller froze while handling the planes, the two jets came within 300 feet of each other. The near miss caused both pilots to react to cockpit warnings of impending collision.

"UPS 36 heavy, fly heading 180. Japan Air 72 heavy, descend and maintain 1, 3,000," the air traffic controller said during the Jan. 14 incident, leading the JAL pilot to radio, "Japan Air 72 heavy, now TCAS descend."

The reference to TCAS means the pilot's collision alarm went off.

"One of the aircraft's computers said, 'climb,' and the other aircraft's computer said, 'descend'. So that they wouldn't go on this collision course and hit each other," ABC News Aviation consultant Steve Ganyard explained.

At one point, their altitude separation dropped to 0, meaning they were headed straight for each other, Hawaii News Now reported.

The novice controller who caused the near miss was handling eight planes at once, traffic the FAA considers of "average complexity," according to an FAA error-deviation report.

The FAA managers on scene at the time never reported the near miss. It wasn't until the UPS pilot told the National Transportation Safety Board that FAA headquarters found out.

The FAA said in a statement that as soon as the agency learned of this incident, it took quick and decisive action, which included retraining for the young controller and the resignation of his manager.

The FAA placed air traffic control manager Bob Rabideau on administrative leave in February. Rabideau, 65, who had been an air traffic controller for 20 years, later chose to retire.

The controllers union says it works with the FAA on safety.

"We take incidents like this very seriously," a spokesman said. "We are working collaboratively with the FAA on a wide array of initiatives that improve safety, which is our No. 1 priority. We are striving to make the world's safest system of aviation even safer."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Colorado Air Traffic Controller Accused of Drinking at Work

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONGMONT, Colo.) -- An air traffic controller in Colorado is under federal investigation after allegedly being caught drunk while at work.

ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver reports that Federal Aviation Administration officials conducted a random alcohol test on the  veteran controller on July 5, six-and-a-half hours into his eight hour shift. His blood alcohol content, sources told KMGH, registered at twice the legal limit.

The controller, who has not been named, has since been removed from his position at the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center in Longmont while officials investigate the matter, KMGH reports. He has reportedly entered an alcohol rehabilitation program, according to ABC's Good Morning America.

It is not yet known if the air traffic controller was consuming alcohol while at work or if he went to work already drunk.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr192011

FAA Says Air Traffic Controller Caught Watching Movie

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- On the same weekend that the Federal Aviation Administration announced sweeping schedule changes in an effort to reduce incidents of air traffic controllers sleeping on the job, the agency says a controller at an Ohio control center was caught watching a movie on a portable DVD player.

The controller and a manager have been suspended as a result.

The FAA says in the early morning hours of April 17, an air traffic controller at the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center was watching a movie on a portable DVD player while working at a radar position.  The government agency says the controller’s microphone was on during that time and the sound of the movie was transmitted over a radio frequency used in that airspace.  The FAA learned of the incident from a military aircraft.

An unnamed government source says the controller was watching the 2007 Samuel L. Jackson film, Cleaner.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt announced a number of changes in scheduling last weekend, including a new rule that controllers have no fewer than nine hours off between shifts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr152011

Resigning FAA Official Defended Lavish 2009 Conference

ABC News(ATLANTA) -- The Federal Aviation Authority official who resigned Thursday after a series of air traffic controllers were found sleeping on the job was also featured in an ABC News investigation into a controversial $5 million FAA conference in 2009.

Hank Krakowski, formerly the chief operating officer of the FAA's Air Traffic Operations, attended the Atlanta conference which critics said was little more than a chance to throw a lavish party.  Krakowski defended the conference to ABC News' Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross, saying the three weeks of meetings and social events were necessary to train managers on the new contract that went into effect months earlier.

Three groups of managers attended the conference in one-week spans.

The costs the event incurred were worth it, Krakowski said, "because we have to get the frontline managers onboard with what we're trying to do."

At the time, FAA whistleblowers questioned why, if the meetings were so important, they were held more than two months after the contract had been enacted.

"It seems a little extravagant," said one whistleblower in a message to ABC News then.  "One would think a PowerPoint or even a videoconference would suffice."

Undercover video taken at the conference showed FAA managers drinking heavily and making the rounds of Atlanta bars after a day of meetings.

One FAA manager told an ABC News undercover reporter, "Anytime you get a bunch of FAA guys together, it is nothing but a party."  Another said, "It beats being at work."

Krakowski submitted his resignation to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt Thursday as the FAA continues to investigate five incidents of possible napping air traffic controllers in recent weeks.

In his announcement of the resignation, Babbitt said, "Over the last few weeks we have seen examples of unprofessional conduct on the part of a few individuals that have rightly caused the traveling public to question our ability to ensure their safety.  This conduct must stop immediately."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

COO of Air Traffic Organization Resigns Over Sleeping Controllers

John Foxx/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Following reports that a third air traffic controller was caught sleeping on the job,  the chief operating officer of the Air Traffic Organization announced Thursday he was resigning from his position.

Randy Babbitt, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, accepted Hank Krakowski's resignation and said David Grizzle, the FAA's chief counsel, will step in temporarily to fill the spot.

Babbitt added that a nationwide search will be conducted to appoint a new, permanent COO for the ATO, which is responsible for operating the country's air traffic control system.

The resignation comes amid news that an air traffic controller reportedly nodded off Wednesday morning while a plane carrying a critically ill patient was trying to land at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada.  The controller, who was out of communication for approximately 16 minutes, was suspended while the Federal Aviation Administration investigates the incident.

The latest incident marks the third time in less than two months that an air traffic controller has been caught sleeping on the job.

Last month at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport, a controller on his fourth consecutive overnight shift left the radio tower silent after apparently falling asleep.  Two commercial airliners were forced to land on their own.

In February, a controller in Knoxville, Tennessee went to sleep on the job during a midnight shift.  Sources told ABC News that the controller made a bed on the floor of the control tower with couch pillows.

In response to Wednesday's incident, the FAA and the Department of Transportation announced that additional air traffic controllers would be immediately added on the midnight shift at 27 control towers that currently have only one person working overnights -- including Reno. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr132011

Another Air Traffic Controller Asleep on the Job

Comstock/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- For the third time in less than two months an air traffic controller was caught sleeping on the job while a plane carrying a critically ill patient was trying to land.

The controller at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport is believed to have nodded off on Wednesday morning and was out of communication for approximately 16 minutes. The controller was the only one on duty handling the few overnight arrivals and departures.

An aircraft transporting a critically ill patient was unable to reach the Reno tower during it's approach, but the pilot was in communication with the Northern California Terminal Radar Control and ultimately landed safely without assistance from the tower.

In response to the incident the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation announced that an additional air traffic controller will be immediately added on the midnight shift at 27 control towers that currently have only one person working overnights.

"I am totally outraged by these incidents. This is absolutely unacceptable," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "The American public trusts us to run a safe system. Safety is our number one priority and I am committed to working 24/7 until these problems are corrected."

In February a controller in Knoxville, Tenn., deliberately went to sleep on the job during a midnight shift. Sources told ABC News that the controller made a bed on the floor of the control tower with couch pillows.

And last month at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport a controller on his fourth consecutive overnight shift left the radio tower silent after apparently falling asleep. Two commercial airliners were forced to land on their own.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio