Shortly after midnight on October 24, a Learjet 35A, a Med Flight air ambulance flight, crashed in mountainous terrain eight miles east of San Diego Brown Field Municipal Airport (SDM). All five aboard–the ATP-rated captain, copilot and three medical crew–were killed and the jet was destroyed.
Terminal Control Center
“The job of a controller is no longer just separating airplanes,” National Air Traffic Controllers Association president John Carr told attendees at a symposium on “Post 9/11 Security Impacts on Air Traffic Control and Aviation” in Washington, D.C., in late January. “They have to be aware of possibilities that we did not even contemplate on the morning of September 10.”
Last month, FAA COO Russell Chew told a standing-room-only audience at the annual conference of the U.S. Air Traffic Control Association that a widening gap between the falling income and rising expenses of the agency’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) could reach a cumulative $8.2 billion over the next five years and he said the FAA must take positive actions to close this gap.
Why, when the safety record of professionally flown turbine twins is so impressive, did four business aircraft experience fatal accidents during a five-week period late last year? Three were fan-powered–a Learjet 35A, a Gulfstream III and a Challenger 601–and one was a King Air 200. There was a highly qualified two-person crew at the controls of each aircraft. Three of the four airplanes were operating in accordance with Part 91.
Mitsubishi MU-2B-60, Parker, Colo., Aug. 4, 2005–The NTSB blamed the accident on the commercial pilot’s failure to fly a stabilized instrument approach at night. Contributing factors were the dark night and low clouds, the inadequate design and function of the airport facility’s minimum safe altitude warning system (MSAW), and the FAA’s inadequate procedure for updating information to air traffic controllers.
Although the NTSB blamed the commercial pilot of a Mitsubishi MU-2 that crashed in Parker, Colo., in August 2005 for his failure to fly a stabilized instrument approach in IMC at night, factors cited by the NTSB included the “inadequate design and function” of the FAA’s minimum safe altitude warning (MSAW) system and faulty FAA procedures.
The FAA ran the first trial of its new airspace flow program (AFP) during this summer’s severe weather season. The AFP imposes ground delays on traffic inbound to the Northeast U.S. when severe weather crops up and affects air traffic flow.
The FAA recently concluded a study that compares the productivity and cost-effectiveness of select U.S. terminal ATC facilities in 2002 with those of similar private or quasi-government-operated non-U.S. facilities. On average, U.S.
The FAA’s industry-government Management Advisory Council (MAC) is recommending that the agency take several steps to save money, including consolidating some Tracons, contracting out more VFR control towers and reducing the number of FAA regions.