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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.

Giorgos's picture

After Close Call, FAA Changes Newark Procedures

The close call between two planes at Newark Liberty International Airport last month has prompted changes in the airport's takeoff and landing procedures.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday that planes taking off and landing simultaneously won't use the intersecting runways where a United flight coming from San Francisco and an ExpressJet flight taking off for Memphis, Tennessee, came dangerously close to each other on April 24.

"The FAA has investigated the recent air traffic incident at Newark and has taken steps to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future," the FAA's statement said.

Specifically, the FAA said, planes are no longer using the east-west Runway 29 for arrivals at the same time planes are taking off on the north-south Runway 4R.

loulou's picture

Smoke in air traffic facility causes travel snafus at O’Hare, Midway

Smoke billowing from a burning bathroom ceiling fan motor caused the evacuation of an Elgin FAA facility Tuesday, triggering the shutdown of hundreds of flights in and out of the nation’s second busiest airport and a ripple effect elsewhere.

Some travelers were trapped in Chicago overnight by the O’Hare International Airport shutdown, and dozens of flights at Midway also were canceled.

As of late Tuesday night, Chicago Department of Aviation officials estimated more than 1,000 flights had been canceled at O’Hare and another 120 at Midway. Hundreds more were delayed or diverted.

Delays at O’Hare late Tuesday were about 90 minutes and were averaging 2 1/2 hours at Midway, according to the aviation department.

2_b_or_not's picture

Memory overload on $2.4bn system blamed for US air traffic control shutdown

A design fault in the $2.4bn (£1.2bn) US air traffic control system made by Lockheed Martin triggered a computer glitch that affected thousands of people on flights in the US last week.

Flights were grounded or delayed in Los Angeles after the system could not retrieve enough altitude information in a U-2 spy plane's flight plan, sources told Reuters.

The subsequent error blanked out a large proportion of the south west of the United States flight traffic, and FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said that the computer had to examine a large number of air routes to "de-conflict the aircraft with lower altitude flights", claiming that the process used a large amount of available memory which affected other flight-processing functions.

The FAA has since set the system to require altitudes for every flight plan and added memory to the system, and Brown believes this should prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

dallas's picture

US air official says drone 'almost collided with plane'

A drone almost collided with a US commercial flight in March, an official with America's flight regulatory agency has revealed.

Jim Williams of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) unmanned aircraft systems office said it showed the risks posed by such aircraft.

The near collision was reported to air traffic control as a pilot approached a Florida airport.

The FAA currently only allows non-commercial and police uses for drones.

But it requires drone pilots to alert an airport when flying it within five miles (8km) of the airport.

"The airline pilot said that the UAS [unmanned aircraft system] was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it," Mr Williams said at a drone conference in San Francisco.

"Thankfully, inspection of the airliner after landing found no damage."

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