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Air Traffic Control Errors

Air traffic control errors are on the rise at O’Hare International Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  Reports indicating an increase in the number of errors – up to17 errors in the past year from six errors in the previous year – prompted federal officials to investigate staffing and other issues affecting safety at O’Hare.

The data has shown that many of the errors have been occurring while veteran air traffic controllers are training newly-hired controllers to direct planes that are landing, taking off or taxiing.  The errors generally result in a failure to maintain proper distances between planes both vertically and horizontally.

According to FAA officials, two of the errors were considered to be serious, with one error resulting in strong turbulence caused by the wake of another plane, which violates a rule that planes keep a vertical distance of at least 1,000 feet from each other.  Fortunately, the incident did not result in any injuries.

O'Hare’s air traffic control tower is currently staffed with 52 fully-certified controllers, 15 controllers-in-training with some experience, and four new hires classified as "developmentals," according to the FAA. Six additional controllers-in-training are scheduled to begin working at O’Hare later this year to account for two recent retirements and additional expected retirements.   Many of the O’Hare’s experienced controllers spend the majority of their time training the newly hired controllers.

O’Hare is not alone in its error increase. In fact, the FAA reported nearly 1,900 air traffic control errors in the United States during the last fiscal year, which is an increase from approximately 1,000 errors in 2007.  FAA officials were not surprised by the increase in errors, which they partly attribute to changes in error-reporting requirements and increased attention on safety.

The skilled Chicago personal injury accident lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish are knowledgeable of the complex legal issues involved with Illinois mass transit accidents, including airplanes, trains, helicopters, buses and subways.

Steinberg, Goodman, & Kalish  (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (888) 325-7299.


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