Tue, Apr 19, 2005
Controllers Couldn't Hear Pilots For 20 Minutes Saturday
What happened in the tower at Tampa
International Airport that kept controllers hearing from pilots for
about 20 minutes on Saturday? The answer involves a propane leak, a
fire and two five-dollar fuses, according to the FAA.
Although the problem affected air traffic around the Tampa-St.
Petersburg area for only 20 minutes, causing minor delays, it all
started back in February, when a contractor accidentally cut the
cable that feeds power from an airport generator. Authorities in
the tower thought that problem had been completely fixed -- but
they were wrong. The cable was still severed when the power ran out
They also thought the emergency backup generator was in good
shape. Again, they were mistaken. The propane tanks that fuel that
generator had developed a leak.
Then there were the five-buck fuses. Two of them failed for one
reason or another, kicking off the series of events that eventually
kept controllers from hearing pilots in the air.
Well, the fuses have been replaced. The cable has been repaired
and the propane leaks have been plugged. But critics say Saturday's
failures are more proof that the air traffic system is crumbling
and the FAA, which has been cutting costs, needs to reinvest --
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