Make us your home page
Instagram

FAA says rise in reported air traffic control errors comes from better reporting, technology

Reports of errors by air traffic controllers nationally have nearly doubled. While there have been several major near collisions in recent months, there has been no fatal crash in two years.

Associated Press (2000)

Reports of errors by air traffic controllers nationally have nearly doubled. While there have been several major near collisions in recent months, there has been no fatal crash in two years.

WASHINGTON — In a time of unparalleled aviation safety in the United States, reports of mistakes by air traffic controllers have nearly doubled — a seeming contradiction that puzzles safety experts.

The near collision last month of an American Airlines jet with 259 people aboard and two Air Force transport planes southeast of New York City, coupled with the rise in known errors, has raised concerns in Congress that safety may be eroding.

A US Airways plane carrying 95 people crossed paths with a small cargo plane in September, coming within 50 to 100 feet of each other while taking off from Minneapolis. A few months earlier a US Airways Airbus 319 intersected the path of another cargo plane during an aborted landing in Anchorage, Alaska.

In fact, an air traffic controller at the Ronkonkoma, N.Y., radar facility that handled the American plane says he complained about a lax atmosphere at the facility — the second busiest of its kind in the nation.

Controller Evan Seeley, 26, said he ran afoul of the local union when he tried to prevent sick leave and scheduling abuses aimed at increasing overtime pay. Even more disturbing were Seeley's charges that controllers sometimes watch movies and play with electronic devices during nighttime shifts when traffic is slower. He said he has sent his complaints to the Transportation Department's inspector general and to the office of special counsel, which investigates whistle-blower charges. He claims his recent demotion from his position as a front-line manager was related to his attempts to correct problems.

Union officials called Seeley's claims wild and baseless.

In the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2010, there were 1,889 operation errors, which usually means aircraft coming too close together, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, up from 947 such errors the year before.

The FAA administrator says the higher number of known errors is due to better reporting and technology that can determine more precisely how close planes are in the air.

Very few of the errors fall into the most serious category, which could result in pilots taking evasive action to prevent an accident. But those instances also have increased. In the year ending Sept. 30, there were 44 such events, compared with 37 in the prior year.

Speaking before Congress recently, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt noted the dearth of major accidents. Today marks 24 months without a fatal airline accident. The last was the crash of a regional airliner on Feb. 12, 2009, near Buffalo, N.Y., that killed 50 people.

.Fast facts

Statistics detail rise in incidents

In the 12 months ending on Sept. 30, 2010, there were 1,889 operation errors — which usually means aircraft coming too close together, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, up from 947 such errors the year before.

• • •

In the year ending Sept. 30, there were 44 events in which pilots were forced to take evasive action, compared with 37 in the prior year.

FAA says rise in reported air traffic control errors comes from better reporting, technology 02/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 11, 2011 9:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst

    Business

    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette

    News

    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  3. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]
  4. Despite Hurricane Irma, Hillsborough remains on pace to unlock hotel tax that could pay for Rays ballpark

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Despite the threat of a catastrophic storm, it was business as usual at many Hillsborough County hotels in the days before Hurricane Irma bore down on the Tampa Bay region.

    The Grand Hyatt near TIA closed during Hurricane Irma, but many other Hillsborough hotels were open and saw an influx.
  5. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]