Spike In Air Traffic Controller Errors Increases Aviation Safety Concerns

Spike In Air Traffic Controller Errors Increases Aviation Safety Concerns
California plane crash lawyers have focused extra hard on errors made by pilots and air traffic controllers as contributing factors in plane crashes. New statistics released by the Federal Aviation Administration show that during the year ending September 30, 2010, there was an increase in the number of errors made by air traffic controllers. These errors increased to 1,889 operation errors, a spike from 947 errors made during the same period the previous year. The term “operation errors” is used to mean any error which results in two planes coming too close together.

The release of the report comes just a few days after a serious near midair plane crash involving an American Airlines jet and two military planes. In that incident, the American Airlines jet, which had just taken off from JFK airport came close to two Air Force transport planes. The American Airlines jet had 259 people on board. That incident was traced to an error made by an air traffic controller. Fortunately, the American Airlines collision warning system was able to kick in and sound the warning, and the pilot was able to avoid a collision. The consequences if the collision warning system had not been sounded, are too unbearable to think about.

California plane crash lawyers have found a number of such near-miss incidents traced where controller errors. In September 2010, a US Airways plane carrying 95 passengers came close to a small cargo plane in midair. The two planes came within 50 to 100 feet of each other soon after taking off from Minneapolis airport. Also last year, another US Airways plane came too close to a cargo plane during an aborted landing in Anchorage in Alaska.

One air traffic controller at the Ronkonkoma, New York radar facility is blowing the whistle on lax safety environment in the traffic control room. According to Evan Seeley, the environment in the control room is extremely casual, and air traffic controllers sometimes watch movies or fiddle with electronic devices while they are on duty. This kind of behavior exists at a radar control facility that is one of the busiest of its kind in the country. It’s not the kind of scene that would comfort any passenger or any California injury attorney, but it’s not exactly a state secret either. Distractions, unnecessary conversations and tardiness have been linked to a series of air traffic controller errors recently. Such errors have been blamed for a number of fatal crashes, including one involving a tourist helicopter and a small plane over the Hudson River last year.

Lawmakers last week grilled Federal Aviation Administration chief Randy Babbitt about the increased number of air traffic controller errors. However, according to the chief, the increased number of errors is merely due to increased reporting and sophisticated new technology that can better calibrate how close two planes come to each other.

The Reeves Law Group is a law firm with offices throughout California dedicated to the representation of personal injury victims. Please visit our website at
trlglaw.com. If you desire a free consultation on a personal injury matter, please call us at (800) 644-8000 or email us.

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