Thu, Sep 08, 2011
DOT IG Will Study, Issue Report In Spring 2012
Federal data shows a disturbing trend - Air traffic controller
operational errors resulting in a breakdown of separation minima
are up 81 percent between 2007 and 2010, from 1,040 to 1,887,
despite a ten percent decline in traffic. The Boston Globe reports
that for the Boston region, the increase is 114 percent.
The FAA was responding to a public information request from the
paper, and attributes the jump to changes in the way errors are
reported and categorized. But a number of anonymous controllers and
trainers instead placed blamed on causes ranging from inexperienced
staffers to the training they receive from Raytheon.
Congress has asked the DOT's Inspector General to look into the
matter, which is expected to take until next spring.
One anonymous source described as a long-time Texas controller
sounded a little like a replay of the rhetoric which was common
from his union before the FAA renegotiated controller contract's
after Randy Babbitt's arrival as FAA Administrator. The controller
says, "I see the close calls, and it’s frightening. I
don’t feel as safe as I did five years ago."
FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac acknowledged concern about the rise
in errors, which comes during what the FAA likes to point out
is statistically the safest time ever for air travel in the US. She
told the Globe officials are reviewing procedures and training
throughout the air traffic control system to ensure we are
addressing any safety issues and making any necessary changes."
The last time the National Transportation Safety Board specified
controller error as a probable cause of a fatal aviation accident
was in January of 2010, when the pilot and sole occupant of a Piper
PA-32-300 flew into a mountain ridge in Hawaii.
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