A number of photos and videos provided to Fox News in New York by a source that news organization refused to name, showed some White Plains air traffic controllers asleep in the tower cab. Other shots showed controllers using their cell phones in the cab. The unnamed source implied these activities took place when controllers should have been actively engaged in monitoring air traffic.
Air traffic controller
At an awards banquet last night in Atlanta, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) awarded its Archie League Medal of Safety Awards to controllers who displayed exceptional professionalism, composure and quick thinking in dealing with emergencies.
After four decades in aviation, having seen the best–and worst–of the industry, I am still moved by some of the unheralded work of the folks who work in and around aviation. While the heroes of flight (yes, Sully, you are one of them) do get the recognition they justly deserve, there are others in all kinds of occupations who do amazing work for little, if any, public recognition.
Bedeviled by political gamesmanship and misfortune, it’s a wonder the FAA gets anything done—never mind accomplishing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). With the latest transition in FAA leadership, we’ve come full circle to the situation that prevailed when President George W. Bush left office three years ago, with an interim administrator and no reauthorization.
Nearly three months after Henry “Hank” Krakowski was forced out as head of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO), the agency named acting head David Grizzle permanently to the post. Krakowski resigned as ATO COO on April 14, following a series of highly publicized incidents in which air traffic controllers were found sleeping on duty.
While fatigue has attracted the most attention as a cause of the recent well publicized air traffic controller errors, the Transportation Department’s top watchdog suggests that training and staffing may also play a large part.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt on Sunday announced changes to air traffic controller scheduling practices that will allow controllers more time for rest between shifts. The fact that the leaders worked on the controller fatigue issue over a weekend underscores the attention they’re giving to the issue in the wake of several incidents where lone controllers have fallen asleep late at night.
In a statement issued this afternoon, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt expressed “outrage” over the incidents early yesterday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in which two separate flight crews could not reach an air traffic controller as their aircraft were upon approach to the field shortly after midnight.
For those who manage the nation’s airports, the message coming out of their annual Washington Legislative Conference last month was one of gloom and doom.
Speakers warned attendees that House Republicans’ pledge to slash more than $32 billion from agency budgets over the next few months could affect everything from NextGen ATC modernization to the Essential Air Service (EAS) program.
Nigel Moll says: