Entries in FAA (52)


Planes Narrowly Avoid Collision at New York's JFK Airport

Goodshot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Federal aviation officials are investigating after two planes nearly collided on the runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Monday.

A Lufthansa jumbo jet carrying 286 passengers was speeding for takeoff, approaching 180 miles per hour, when an EgyptAir plane -- capable of carrying 346 people -- took a wrong turn onto its runway.

The Luftansa pilots had to slam on the breaks -- stopping so hard, they worried the aircraft's brakes had become dangerously overheated.

The Lufthansa flight eventually took off and arrived safely in Munich.

Sources tell the New York Post it appears the EgyptAir crew simply took a wrong turn.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Child Safety Seats on Planes: New Recommendation from FAA

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration recommended Tuesday that children weighing 40 pounds or less sit in FAA-approved child safety seats when flying.

"The safest place for a child on an airplane is in one of these seats, and not in the parent's lap," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt at a Washington, D.C., press conference. The Association of Flight Attendants also joined in the recommendation.

In addition to the air travel safety implications, the FAA flight safety suggestion also means added cost for families with children under two wishing to follow the recommendation. Current rules allow children under the age of two to fly for free if they sit on the lap of an adult passenger.

While the FAA says it is safest for children under the age of two to sit in their own seats, the administration is not making this a requirement because it argues that the extra cost may push families to drive to their destinations instead of flying. The FAA maintains that a child is safer on a plane, even if sitting on a lap, than in a car.

Veda Shook, the president of the flight attendants' association, said if families have already purchased tickets for upcoming trips, and did not purchase tickets for their young children, parents can still bring their children's car seats to the gate. If there are extra seats available on the airplane, the seats may be used for the child's car seat. If there isn't any additional seating room, the child seat can be checked at the gate for no extra charge.

If a child's car seat is approved by the FAA for air travel, it should be noted on the side of the seat. Booster seats without seat backs are not approved for air travel.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


DOT Inspector General Paints Troubling Picture of FAA and Air Traffic Controllers

Comstock/Thinkstock)(WASHINGTON) -- At a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the Department of Transportation's Inspector General Calvin Scovel III testified about recent problems with air traffic controllers -- everything from controllers falling asleep on the job to making operational errors that caused planes to fly too close to each other.

Scovel told the Senate subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security that there are four areas that are particularly challenging for the FAA: identifying and addressing the cause of operational errors, mitigating fatigue, adequately staffing air traffic control facilities and training new controllers.

Scovel also said that FAA statistics show a recent significant increase in operational errors, but the cause of this increase remains unclear.  

"Until FAA takes action to develop comprehensive data... conduct astute trend analyses, and develop timely action plans to address controller workforce risks and vulnerabilities, FAA cannot ensure it has a sufficient number of alert, competent, and certified controllers needed to effectively manage the challenges of the next generation of air traffic control," Scovel said.

According to FAA data, the number of operational errors by controllers increased by 53 percent -- from 1,234 to 1,887 between fiscal year 2009 and 2010. The FAA says it believes the increase is due to a new reporting system that allows controllers to report operational errors without fear of reprisal.

The inspector general indicated that FAA has not yet fully put in place recommendations to identify the causes of controller fatigue or solutions to mitigate the risk.

"Let’s be clear on one thing here and now: it’s unacceptable for a controller to fall asleep on the job.  If they do, they should be removed immediately.  That part is non-negotiable," Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said at the hearing. "Someone 5,000 feet in the air should never wonder if the controller on the ground has nodded off."

The FAA is working to hire and train nearly 11,000 new controllers. The inspector general found that the process does not adequately consider new controllers’ knowledge, skills and ability when assigning them to facilities, and that critical facilities have a high percentage of controllers in training.

Currently, new controllers comprise up to 25 percent of the ATC workforce compared to 15 percent in 2004. However, this percentage can vary extensively by location. For example, Seattle TRACON has 46 percent of its controller workforce in training, while St. Louis TRACON has no controllers in training.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pilots to Get New Training: 'Most Substantial Change...In Two Decades'

Valueline/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal aviation officials proposed new rules Wednesday for pilot training, following a crash in western New York.

Pilot error contributed the deadly crash of Continental flight 3407 outside Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009. When the aircraft experienced an aerodynamic stall, the captain performed the wrong maneuver. Investigators at the time said pilots need better training. Now, more than two years later, FAA Administrator Randy Babbit said they will get it.

Pilots will receive better training on how to recognize and recover from stalls and aircraft upsets, Babbit said, calling the overhaul “the most the last 20 years.”

“Under this proposal, flight crews would have to demonstrate, not just learn, critical skills in “real-world” training scenarios,” the FAA said in a statement. “Pilots would be required to train as a complete flight crew, coordinate their actions through Crew Resource Management, and fly scenarios based on actual events. Dispatchers would have enhanced training and would be required to apply that knowledge in today’s complex operating environment.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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


FAA Makes Changes to Controller Schedules

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Sunday announced several changes to the work schedules of air traffic controllers across the country, with the aim of allowing controllers to have more rest between shifts and prevent controllers from falling asleep on the job.

The changes in schedule come on the heels of incidents of air traffic controllers falling asleep while on duty in Miami and Reno, in the past week. These latest incidents are two of at least five reported incidents of controllers falling asleep during the overnight shift since early March.

“We have zero tolerance for sleeping on the job,” Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said in a statement. “Safety is our top priority and we will continue to make whatever changes are necessary.”

The FAA has implemented new scheduling rules which will see controllers now having a minimum of nine hours off between shifts and controllers will no longer be able to swap shifts unless they have at least nine hours off between the last shift they worked and the one they want to begin.

Officials say controllers will also no longer be able to switch to an unscheduled midnight shift following a day-off and FAA managers will seek to schedule their own shifts in a way that ensures greater coverage during the early morning and late night hours.

The FAA says the new rules have already been put in place and officials expect these rules will be in full effect in the coming days.

On Monday officials are scheduled to begin a series of Call to Action air traffic control safety and professionalism meetings, which will see officials visiting air traffic facilities in a number of cities including, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Dallas and Kansas City.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Not Again! Air Traffic Controller Falls Asleep On the Job

Comstock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Another air traffic controller fell asleep on the job Saturday morning, just as the Federal Aviation Administration plans to change schedules linked to controller fatigue.

The agency claims that no flights were impacted by this latest incident. The air traffic controller has been suspended.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt announced Saturday that he has ordered certain scheduling changes to take effect within 72 hours.

“We are taking important steps today that will make a real difference in fighting air traffic controller fatigue," Babbitt said. "But we know we will need to do more. This is just the beginning.”

The air traffic controller at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center did not miss any calls from aircraft, according to the FAA.

In a joint op-ed for USA Today published online this weekend, Babbitt and National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi said, “These recent incidents have cast doubt on whether our nation's controllers are truly committed to keeping the skies safe. We want to tell you they are.”

The pair called the American aviation system the safest in the world, but added that “we can do better.”

“On Monday, we are kicking off our Call to Action on air traffic control safety and professionalism," the op-ed reads. "We will be traveling to air traffic facilities around the country, to reinforce the need for all air traffic personnel to adhere to the highest professional standards.”

The article, written before this latest incident, was to be published in Monday's print edition of USA Today.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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


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


Air Traffic Controller Reportedly Made Bed on Control Tower Floor

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Another air traffic controller was found asleep on the job, but unlike the incident at a Washington, D.C., airport last month in which a controller inadvertently dozed off, this was apparently no accident.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a controller in Knoxville, Tenn., deliberately went to sleep on the job during a midnight shift on Feb. 19. Sources told ABC News the sleeping controller didn't simply nod off -- he made a bed on the floor of the control tower, using couch pillows from the employee break room and a blanket.

The frightening tale once again played out on recordings of radio transmissions obtained exclusively by ABC News from the website

"Yes sir, we're trying to get a hold of Knoxville approach or Knoxville departure ... and we cannot raise them," said one pilot on approach.

"Poppa Charlie stand by," said another controller at the same airport.

"We got our clearance, but we don't have any radio contact with them," the pilot responded.

The second controller in the tower, working on a different floor, fielded calls from pilots who had heard only radio silence.

The controller who was awake handled seven flights alone, including a Delta Connection arriving from LaGuardia and at least four "Lifeguard" flights. "Lifeguard" flights are planes with an urgent medical mission.

The snoozing controller did respond to one radio call but sounded groggy. The recording was unintelligible.

"Tower, Life Guard 1CW, same as the other guy, nobody home," said one pilot after radio silence.

FAA administrator Randy Babbitt said they are trying to get the sleeping controller fired.

"It was unfortunately willful, and we are in the process of disciplinary proceedings which will terminate this employee," Babbitt said Wednesday at a congressional hearing.

The revelation of this incident comes on the heels of another sleeping controller last month at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio