Air Traffic Controllers Direct Blips to Converge

Maybe there should be more stringent requirements, specifically against getting boffo in the air traffic control tower.

Upon take-off, United Airlines Flight 1015 found itself scraping belly against back of a cargo plane landing on the same track. The passenger flight, carrying 125 people, missed the cargo plane by only about 300 vertical feet, which the Federal Aviation Administration assures us is “way, way too close.”

Unbelievably, this is the fifth near-miss incident of mid-flight collisions predicated by daydreaming air traffic controllers this year alone. The most serious was a danger level C near-miss, with A being a hair’s breadth from a full on kablooie, we assume. Last year, there were seven, one of which was an A level threat.

As usual, the threat of terrorism is made to seem completely impotent by our own casual incompetency.

Traffic controller blamed for near miss at O’Hare [Chicago Sun Times]


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  1. denki says:

    Fucking great, Consumerist. Yeah, let’s just aggravate the people with the most stressfull job in the world (said a study a few years back. I think it has gotten worse, because now they think they might face a 9-11 type sitrep) who daily decide NOT to kill thousands of people by giving pilots bad info. So give them a reason to be mad at brainless peons who get incredibly riled at them over this. Yes, it is very shitty that things like this near-miss happens, but until there are more traffic controllers to alleviate the strain that each controller faces, it’s going to happen.

    I remember watching a show about them once…one guy said his work was so stressfull that all he did once he got at home to unwind was to park himself in front of a large, tropical fish tank and just space out for 3 hours watching the fish. Sounds like a fun job to me. I’m glad that there are people that can handle this with as few mistakes as are made; I’ve watched police direct traffic much more poorly.

  2. Hawkins says:

    The phrase “near miss” always makes me think of George Carlin, who said:

    Here’s one they just made up: “near miss”. When two planes almost collide, they call it a near miss. It’s a near hit. A collision is a near miss.

    ‘Oh, look! They nearly missed!’

  3. Sure they have a stressful job, but it’s also one where the raison d’etre of the job is to keep planes from crashing. Five near hits (as Hawkins puts it) in seven months is completely unacceptable.

    I’d have to agree with the post: 9/11 has distracted the government and airlines from emptying dangerously overfilled skies.

    Unless the plan is to empty them with crashes.

  4. My office is across the street from one of the runways at O’Hare and planes regularly fly within 300 feet of our building…so what makes it anymore dangerous to fly within 300 feet of another airplane? Sounds like super efficiency to me.

  5. homerjay says:

    Its still not as stressful as AOL Customer Retention Rep.

  6. masd says:

    For a long time I was a resident of a northwest Illinois suburb that is about 5 mins away from O’Hare airport. Before I left, there was a lot of people upset because the city wanted O’Hare to expand, at the cost of nearby residental and commerical property.

    Last I heard, the resistance against reconfiguring the Airport’s runways was successful, and it makes me wonder if this is the cost. O’Hare is the world’s busiest airport, and people won’t let it get larger to accomidate this traffic… and there is only a finite amount of space.

    I wonder if they’ll regret their choice to not sell their home/business when 2 boeing passenger jets are laying on their property wrecked and burning, because people wouldn’t make air traffic controllers jobs easier. IIRC location of the American Airlines jet that crashed in the late 70’s is now developed.