NY Sen. Charles Schumer is proposing new measures he says would help prevent another crash over the Hudson River like the one that killed nine people earlier this month. Schumer wants the Federal Aviation Administration to monitor all helicopter and airplane flights below 1,000 feet. He also says the FAA should develop safety standards for commercial sightseeing tours. At local control towers, Schumer wants more staffing and he wants alarm systems installed that set off progressively louder alarms as aircraft get closer to each other.Schumer is holding a press conference today in Manhattan to announce his recommendations. He says Congress needs to fund new technology to make air-traffic control operations safer.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in a letter that if the controller at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey had been following procedures he would have warned the pilot of the other traffic in his path.
CBS 2 HD obtained transcripts that show the controller was joking about barbecuing a cat moments before the crash. It ended with the fixed wing and chopper colliding, but in the minutes leading up to the crash the Teterboro controller was distracted by a personal phone call.
The transcript of the conversation, between the controller and a woman at the airport operations center, occurs between his radio communications with the pilot of the doomed aircraft.
“Do we have plenty of gas for the grill?” He asks.
She responds, “We won’t be able to do it today.”
“Fire up the cat,” he said, referring to a dead cat found earlier.
“Ooh disgusting,” the woman said. “That thing was disgusting.”
Three minutes of similar banter continue as the controller also tells the Piper to start the turn toward the river, and instructs him to switch frequencies and contact Newark.
But Newark tower is worried.
Newark: “Hey Teterboro, Newark. Would you switch that guy, maybe put him on a two-twenty heading to get away from that other traffic please?”
Teterboro: “Say again Newark?”
Newark: “Can you switch that PA-32, the piper.”
Teterboro: “I … did keep an eye on him though.”
Newark: “I’m not talking to him so…”
The co-worker is still on the phone listening as he tried to radio the piper and gets no answer.
“What’s the matter?” she asks.
“Let me straighten stuff out,” he says and hangs up.
But he never did.
The essence of the controller’s contribution to this accident is that he was not doing his job. It’s his job to point out other traffic, okay? Before he transfers the other plane over to Newark,” aviation expert Al Yurman told CBS 2 HD.
The controllers union continues to assert that the call had nothing to do with the accident, but agrees it is a potential disciplinary matter.