Last week, two planes at Washington’s Reagan National Airport were forced to land without any assistance from air traffic controllers because the controller in charge was asleep. That’s right. The person in charge of guiding jetliners with hundreds of passengers on board safely onto a runway, had dozed off at the controls. This incident is enough for Indiana personal injury attorneys to wonder at the state of aviation safety this country.
The Federal Aviation Administration has taken a stern view of the air traffic controller’s conduct on the job. The agency has begun an investigation into the conduct of the supervisor who apparently fell asleep. The supervisor has been suspended, and drug tests have been conducted. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the supervisor has told them that he was alone and on his fourth consecutive overnight shift when he dozed off.
The incident has again placed the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic controller staffing procedures under scrutiny. During night shifts, it is not exactly uncommon to find a single air traffic controller at the controls. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association has already issued a statement calling one-person shifts very unsafe. Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood has already called for two air traffic controllers to be stationed at Washington DC’s Reagan National Airport. He has also asked the Federal Aviation Administration to look at similar issues at other busy airports around the country.
The worst part is Indiana personal injury lawyers don’t believe that this is the first and only time something like this has happened in any airport in the country. We have been coming across many instances of air traffic controller errors recently, including one last year in which a controller carried on a personal conversation with a friend, at least partly contributing to a tourist helicopter-small airplane crash over the Hudson River in New York.
The FAA currently has a program in place that encourages air traffic controllers and pilots to voluntarily report aviation errors in exchange for waiving of a probe. Hopefully, this program will help catch common errors in the aviation industry, and make the skies safer for all.