ATC Union Expelled from Midair Investigation

 - August 19, 2009, 5:16 AM

The NTSB has removed the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) as a party in the investigation of the August 8 fatal midair between a Piper Lance and a tour helicopter over New York's Hudson River. According to the NTSB, by publicly commenting on the investigation and disputing report findings, the controllers’ union violated the agreement which states that only the NTSB will release factual information on the progress of the investigation. Natca officials have stated that the press release the Safety Board issued on Friday wrongly implies “that the Teterboro controller could have warned the pilot of the Piper aircraft about the helicopter over the Hudson River that the aircraft eventually hit.” NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said, “Although we appreciate the technical expertise our parties provide during the course of an investigation, it is counterproductive when an organization breaches the party agreement and publicly interprets or comments on factual information generated by that investigation. Our rules are set up precisely to avoid the prospect of each party offering [its own] slant on the information.”