ATC Employees Suspended, NATCA Reacts

By Staff Writer | August 14, 2009

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) placed two Teterboro-based air traffic controllers on administrative leave Thursday in relation to the Aug. 8 midair collision involving a Eurocopter AS350 and a Piper PA32 over the Hudson River. While the FAA acknowledges there is no reason to believe the controllers’ actions had any impact on the accident, one employee was found to be talking on the phone at the time of the crash, while his supervisor was allegedly not present in the building at the time. The controller, who was reportedly on the phone with his girlfriend, was “involved in apparently inappropriate conversations,” FAA said in a statement. The agency has not identified the two controllers. Nine people died in the accident—six onboard the helicopter and three on the aircraft. Eyewitness video footage of the crash was released on Thursday (see Rotor & Wing’s Video of the Day). Meanwhile, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is saying that FAA should not place blame on the Teterboro controllers for the collision. “For the FAA to sit there and allude or make accusations that the controller had anything to do with this accident is absolutely absurd and very insulting,” Barrett Burns, an NATCA spokesman, told the New York Daily News. The midair crash has sparked renewed debate over regulations in the high-traffic corridor.
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