Transportation Dept. to Probe Air Controller Errors

Friday, 13 May 2011 04:27 PM

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The Transportation Department’s inspector general has opened a probe into recent air traffic controllers’ errors and near misses. Congress prompted the review, springing partly from a reported 53 percent increase in mistakes, The Washington Post reported.

air traffic controllers, mistakes, probe, transportationCongress “expressed concerns about the accuracy of the reported number of operational errors, the causes for a significant increase in this number, and the related safety implications,” according to a memo from the inspector general’s office. The memo cited a 53 percent increase in reported controller errors and some high-profile near misses, the Post reported.

Those near misses involve planes carrying members of Congress and Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. The probe comes at the request of the Senate Commerce Committee. The committee wants verification of Federal Aviation Administration claims that the reason for the increased number of errors is a new reporting system, the Post reported.

The FAA recently instituted the Air Traffic Safety Action Program, which protects controllers from punitive action if they report errors that otherwise would not have been detected. Congress wants to know how the program “impacts the number of operational errors reported, and if it is capturing errors that could lead to breakdowns in safety,” the Post reported.

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