Presentation on theme: "MAY 11/2010 Repeated safety violations by air-traffic controllers led to the fatal midair collision between a sightseeing helicopter and a small private."— Presentation transcript:
MAY 11/2010 Repeated safety violations by air-traffic controllers led to the fatal midair collision between a sightseeing helicopter and a small private plane over the Hudson River in August, according to documents released Wednesday by federal investigators. The National Transportation Safety Board information paints the most detailed picture yet of how a series of lapses by a number of controllers-including distractions caused by personal business-preceded the high-profile crash that killed nine people. The victims included five Italian tourists celebrating the 25th wedding anniversary of one of the passengers, as well as a Pennsylvania businessman and two others who died aboard the single-engine Piper aircraft. Both craft plummeted into the river near the West 30th Street helipad in Manhattan, from which the chopper had taken off just earlier. Joggers and pedestrians watched and filmed the horrific scene. The board's data reinforce earlier indications that a distracted controller, engaged in a personal phone call while on duty and juggling various tasks, failed to keep proper track of the small, propeller-powered plane. The controller, Carlyle Turner, later told investigator he didn't see or hear radar-system warnings about an impending collision, the documents indicate. According to a transcript released Wednesday, Mr. Turner was on a personal call for about 2 1/2 minutes. Five seconds before impact, he hung up by telling the female friend on the call: "Let me straighten... stuff out." Disciplinary action is pending against Mr. Turner, according to people familiar with the details. An FAA spokeswoman said he remains on paid administrative leave, but declined to elaborate. A spokesman for the union representing controllers declined to comment, and said Mr. Turner wasn't available for comment. In addition to shedding more light on the actions of controllers, the latest information highlights apparent slipups by both pilots, as well as other factors that contributed to the tragedy.
MAY 11/2010 In analyzing the sequence of events, investigators are raising new questions about why Brian Jones, a controller based at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport, told the safety board that he also failed to hear or see the same collision warnings. According to investigators, Mr. Jones wasn't wearing glasses at work that day, as required by his medical certificate. Mr. Jones said that at first he thought an aircraft, by itself, had crashed into the river. When he realized a midair collision had occurred, according to a summary of his interview with investigators, "it hit him like a ton of bricks and he was pretty much in shock at that point." The union also declined to make him available for comment. In addition, Investigators disclosed that the experienced pilot of the sightseeing helicopter failed to follow the normal flight path-he climbed above 1,000 feet- after taking off from a heliport just moments before the accident. The collision occurred at an altitude of 1,100 feet, with neither pilot issuing any kind of emergency warning or transmission. In the wake of the crash, amid pressure from federal lawmakers and local politicians, the Federal Aviation Administration revised flight paths and rules for choppers and planes operating under visual flight rules along the busy Hudson River corridor. New Jersey's Teteboro Airport is used by numerous corporate jets ferrying executives in an out of the New York area. The latest timeline indicates that Mr. Turner failed to follow proper procedures from the time Steven Altman of Ambler, Pa,, the pilot of the private plane, requested instructions to take off from Teterboro shortly before noon on August 8. The pilot, according to the safety board's information, apparently wasn't familiar with airways over the Hudson and requested an unusual routing. Initially, Mr. Turner, the Teterboro controller, failed to properly coordinate with other controllers at nearby Newark airport, according to one of the safety board's report. The Newark controller later told investigators he didn't notice any collision warnings. Meanwhile, an air-traffic control supervisor on duty at Teterboro had stepped out, contrary to normal procedures, to run a personal errand and therefore wasn't available to keep an eye on preparations, according to investigators.
MAY 11/2010 The new safety board documents indicate that the plane's pilot failed to switch radio frequencies as requested, so controllers at Teterboro and Newark weren't able to reach him and issue instructions that may have averted the crash. The Teterboro controller missed the pilot's incorrect acknowledgment of the new radio frequency, according to safety board investigators, because he was on a personal phone call while simultaneously monitoring radio transmissions from the plane's pilot and a Newark airport controller. "He's lost in the (radio spectrum), try him again," Mr. Turner told a fellow controller about 30 seconds before the collision. Once it was clear that an accident had occurred, controllers also failed to properly follow emergency procedures to notify other agencies, according to investigators. Next month, the safety board is expected to use the midair collision as one of its case studies at an unusual public forum on aviation safety scheduled for Washington. The three-day event will feature discussion about ways to enhance professionalism and concentration on the job by both pilots and controllers. The safety board also is expected to look at two instances when school-age children visited the controller tower at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and were allowed by supervisors and their father, an experienced controller, to briefly give instructions to pilots. The May sessions also will focus on various airline pilots distracted by cell phones, personal laptops or nonpertinent conversations while seated behind the controls. http://online.wsj.com