FAA Suspends Two Air Traffic Controllers in Hudson Air Crash

August 14, 2009

Photo: Fox News(ChattahBox) — The Federal Aviation Administration has suspended a pair of air-traffic controllers from New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport, following the catastrophic midair collision of an airplane with a helicopter over the Hudson River August 8, that killed nine people. The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement Thursday, the controller in charge of directing the airplane “was involved in apparently inappropriate conversations on the telephone at the time of the incident,” while “the supervisor was not present in the building as required.” Air traffic controllers are expected to be alert at all times while on duty and are typically given about a 15-minute break every two hours.

The controller had cleared the single-engine Piper plane, for takeoff and then made a personal call to a woman, said unnamed sources familiar with the investigation. While still on the phone, the controller handed off the Piper to the control tower at Newark Liberty International Airport, which monitors low-flying air traffic over the Hudson but doesn’t actively try to keep aircraft separated. The controller was reportedly still on the phone when the accident occurred. The FAA has begun disciplinary proceedings, but notes that “we have no reason to believe at this time that these actions contributed to the accident.” Both unnamed employees have been placed on administrative leave with full pay. Three members of a Pennsylvania family on the plane and five Italian tourists and a pilot on the helicopter were killed when the two stricken aircraft plunged into the Hudson river.



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