The fallout from what began with a single air traffic controller falling asleep on an overnight shift at Washington Reagan National Airport on March 23 continued to cascade late last month when the FAA unilaterally ended a practice whereby controllers voluntarily worked grueling shifts to accrue long weekends.
Terminal Control Center
The air traffic controller at the center of the controversy surrounding a pair of flights that had to land at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport early Wednesday morning without ATC clearance from DCA told NTSB investigators that he had fallen asleep, the Safety Board reported this evening.
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.
AOPA has expressed serious concerns about a new letter to airmen issued by Potomac approach control requiring pilots flying in traffic patterns of nontowered airports within the Washington special flight rules area (SFRA) to report their flight’s completion on a “provided telephone number.” Radio reports of termination will no longer be accepted.
At last week’s meeting of the Teterboro Users Group, violations of the Dalton Runway 19 departure at Teterboro (N.J.) Airport were a concern. A recent clarification among air traffic controllers has established that pilots can use the VFR departure only if they request it; ATC cannot offer it.
Think working at New York Tracon is a tough job? Try heading down to the Gulf of Mexico, where controllers handle between 5,000 and 9,000 helicopter flights a day, all without the aid of surveillance radar.
Operators using the newly-activated automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) air traffic control and information system in the Gulf of Mexico will likely see flight leg times cut an average of 15 to 25 minutes and individual IFR routes shortened by at least 30 miles, compared to using the old grid ATC system in the Gulf, according to the FAA and individual operators.
Operators using the newly activated automatic dependence surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) ATC and information system in the Gulf of Mexico will likely see flight leg times cut by an average of 15 to 25 minutes and individual IFR routes shortened by at least 30 miles, compared with using the old grid ATC system in the Gulf, according to the FAA and individual operators.
When a veteran EMS helicopter pilot, probably thinking he was running out of options, decided to dive under a cloud deck to look for the ground, he crashed his Maryland State Police (MSP) Eurocopter Dauphin into terrain about 3.2 miles north of Andrews Air Force Base (ADW), killing all on board except for one of the two teenage traffic accident victims being transported to a nearby hospital.
The FAA will begin testing digital Notam distribution in January at Southern California Tracon and ATC towers in Amarillo, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Denver; and Tallahassee, Fla. “Digital Notams should reduce human error; allow more timely and accurate distribution of information; standardize content, policy and procedures; and balance diverse customer needs,” said the FAA.