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NBAA Recognizes Air Traffic Controller’s Heroism

Cool Heads Prevail in the Sunshine State

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has recognized Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Controller Robert Morgan with its Above and Beyond Award for Heroic Achievement, which recognizes individuals whose substantial actions served to preclude injury, loss of life, or catastrophic damage to business aircraft.

On 10 May 2022, Mr. Morgan was on duty at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) when a passenger onboard a Cessna 208 Caravan contacted the tower to report the plane’s pilot had been incapacitated during an inbound flight from the Bahamas.

“I’ve got a serious situation here,” said the passenger, later identified as Darren Harrison. “My pilot has gone incoherent [and] I have no idea how to fly the airplane.”

Ignoring long-standing FAA guidance dissuading Air Traffic Controllers from involving themselves in the business of vicariously flying the aircraft within their sectors, Mr. Morgan, a certificated pilot and flight instructor with approximately 1,200 flight hours and precisely zero Caravan time—referenced a photo of the single-engine turboprop’s flight deck for purpose of helping guide the distressed passenger’s operation of the aircraft as it approached Florida’s Atlantic coast. Following Mr. Morgan’s instructions, Harrison safely maneuvered toward PBI, descended toward the runway and made a safe landing.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen remarked: “Robert Morgan’s quick-thinking, professionalism, situational awareness, and calm demeanor were instrumental in successfully managing a critical emergency situation, saving all three people onboard from injury and allowing the incapacitated pilot to receive timely medical care. For his actions that day, we are pleased to present Robert with our 2022 NBAA Above and Beyond Award.”

Created by the NBAA Safety Committee in 2020, the Above and Beyond Award for Heroic Achievement—in addition to acknowledging personal valor, magnanimity, and benevolence—emphasizes the importance of stick-and-rudder flying skills in an age characterized by unprecedented pilot and aircrew reliance upon aircraft automation.

Mr. Morgan received this year’s award during the NBAA National Safety Forum, a series of discussions and presentations convened during the 2022 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) to help business aviation operators gain insights at once conducive to preventing accidents and strengthening their organizations’ safety postures.

Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) represents more than ten-thousand company and individual members and provides more than one-hundred products and services to the business aviation community—principal among which is the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), the world’s largest civil aviation trade show.



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