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dallas's picture

Snoozing China air traffic controllers delay jet to land

A Chinese aircraft was forced to delay its landing after two air traffic controllers nodded off, reports said Tuesday, sparking a wave of online anger about airline safety.

The Boeing 737 was preparing to land at Wuhan airport in central China but had no response from the air traffic control tower for 12 minutes, reports said.

Contact was eventually made and China Eastern Airlines flight MU2528 from Sanya landed safely, the Sina.com news portal said.

"Because air traffic control was asleep on duty, (the plane) called many times," civil aviation authorities said in a statement quoted by Chinese business magazine Caijing.

"But there was no reply, and no contact could be made with the control tower."

A separate investigation report cited by Caijing said two controllers had fallen asleep.

loulou's picture

FAA’s new air traffic control system unstable, less capable than old system

The Federal Aviation Administration has begun deploying a new computer system for its air traffic controllers despite warnings that the software suffers from unstable requirements, lacks key safety capabilities and requires training that has yet to be given to workers, a government watchdog warned Monday.

The problems with the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) are so widespread right now that the new system already being installed at the Dallas airport actually has fewer capabilities for air traffic controllers than the old software it was designed to replace, the Transportation Department’s inspector general reported.

One of the missing capabilities is a special warning that alerts controllers of loss of separation between aircraft, a potential safety hazard, the IG said. Officials are scrambling for an upgrade this month to fix that problem.

2_b_or_not's picture

Croatia thanks neighbors after "most terrifying incident"

Croatia's air traffic control authority has thanked Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services (SMATSA) for its "quick and professional reaction on July 30."

SMATSA briefly took control of the entire Croatian airspace after the country was hit by bad weather.

The Consequences of Reagan Breaking the '81 Air Traffic Controllers Strike (1/2)

Prof. Joseph McCartin and former PATCO spokesperson Elliot Simons discuss the anniversary of the firing of 11,000 air traffic controllers and why it matters today.

Labor was a prominent power in 1981. When the air traffic controllers went out on strike 33 years ago yesterday, on August 3, 1981, the labor movement was still seen as a central force in American government and politics. Both parties, Republican and Democrat, saw labor that way.

Giorgos's picture

France air traffic controllers strike called off

There was relief for travellers across Europe Wednesday as French air traffic controllers called an early end to a strike that has caused disruptions for thousands of passengers over the past two days.

The strike by members of the Unsa-ICNA union was launched on Tuesday against what some air traffic controllers say is a lack of sufficient funding for a sector in dire need of modernisation and was due to last until the end of the weekend.

But the remainder of the strike was called off after the government recognised the "importance of investment in the sector," said Unsa-ICNA following lengthy talks with state officials.

The strike had caused scores of flights to be cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday, including those of Air France and budget carriers EasyJet and Ryanair.

dallas's picture

Planes Are Finally Making Logical Descents Onto American Runways

Planes flying into Houston are burning less fuel and making less noise than before, thanks to an FAA project implemented this month. Instead of the conventional descent—leveling out between drops in altitude—pilots will follow a steady path to the ground with the engine throttle near idle.

The shift, along with changes that will ease air congestion around Houston, is part of NextGen, the FAA’s $37 billion program to modernize how American airspace is managed by 2030.

Usually, planes approaching an airport drop altitude in steps, cranking up the engines to level out in between. That makes it easier for pilots to control descents and for air traffic controllers to keep track of everyone and manage spacing between planes. Crews check in with the ground at each interval, making sure they’re clear to drop a few thousand more feet. It’s a safe but inefficient way to get lots of planes on the ground.

Jean46's picture

French Air Traffic Control Strike: Flights Cancelled as Unions Begin Six-Day Walkout

A number of flights have been cancelled but disruption is not expected to be as severe as first feared as French air traffic controllers began six days of strike action on Tuesday 24 June.

France's two biggest air controllers' unions, SNCTA and Unsa-ICNA, originally voted to strike in protest at budget cuts due to come into force between 2015 and 2019.

However, the SNCTA has since decided to drop strike action.

According to European air safety organisation Eurocontrol the strike would cause almost 14,000 hours of delays.

British Airways said the strike is likely to disrupt short-haul services which overfly France.

The airline added that French air controllers are expected to send updates each day on the status of their strike.

A BA spokesman warned that although 19 flights from Heathrow remain unaffected, they could also be hit by the strike with further delays due to re-routing a possibility.

2_b_or_not's picture

FAA controllers working exhausting schedules

Air traffic controllers are at greater risk for fatigue, errors and accidents because they work schedules known as "rattlers" that make it likely they'll get little or no sleep before overnight shifts, according to a government-sponsored report.

Three years after a series of incidents in which controllers were found to be sleeping on the job, a National Research Council report released Friday expressed astonishment that the Federal Aviation Administration still permits controllers to work schedules that cram five work shifts into four 24-hour periods.

The schedules are popular with controllers because at the end of last shift they have 80 hours off before returning to work the next week. But controllers also call the shifts "rattlers" because they "turn around and bite back."

loulou's picture

13 airlines temporarily vanish from European radars

Investigations are underway after 13 European aircraft disappeared from radar over Austria for nearly half an hour – on two different occasions.

The incidents, which took place on June 5 and June 10, saw flight information suddenly vanish from air controller screens in several European countries.

Newspapers across the continent reported flight controllers in Vienna, Austria, Karlsruhe and Munich in Germany, Prague in the Czech Republic and Bratislava in Slovakia had experienced problems.

Marcus Pohanka, a spokesperson for Austro Control, told the that the EU’s Eurocontrol and the European Aviation Safety Agency, have been asked to investigate the potentially dangerous incidents, with 4,000 planes taking to the sky in Austria each day, many of which are long-haul passenger aircraft.

During the radar blackout, air traffic was conducted by voice only, according to Austria’s Kurier newspaper.

Air traffic controller's 'joke' sends plane circling at Atlanta airport, FAA says

If you were one of the passengers traveling from Detroit to Atlanta last Wednesday and happen to be in a big hurry, you probably didn't see anything funny about this joke.

Turns out, neither does the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA is investigating an incident that occurred last week with a plane arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The FAA said a pilot of Delta Flight 630 was just over 1,000 feet off the ground and preparing the land when an air traffic controller told him to instead circle the airport. Seconds later, the air traffic controller told the pilot of the Boeing 777 "I'm kidding... After you land, I've got no one behind you. Expect to exit right."

The correct message came too late, however, and the pilot had already called off the landing. The pilot abruptly changed course and circled the airport before landing safely on his second approach.

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