Air Traffic Controllers

Transportation Nation

Few Major D.C.-Area Flight Delays Three Days Into Furloughs

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


When automatic federal spending cuts under a process known as sequestration loomed in March, federal officials warned the furloughs of air traffic controllers would snarl the air travel system and leave passengers waiting in terminals for hours.

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The Takeaway

PATCO: The Strike That Changed American Labor

Monday, October 17, 2011

In recent months there has been a resurgence of labor protests across the United States. From Ohio to Wisconsin, union members are taking to the streets once more. Yet despite this apparent resurgence, the power of American unions has declined significantly in recent decades. Today The Takeaway traces it all back to August 1981, when nearly 13,000 air traffic controllers went on strike creating a standoff with Ronald Reagan that ended when he fired the majority of them and de-certified their union, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. 

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Transportation Nation

"There Was No Playbook" -- Air Traffic Controllers Remember 9/11

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Air traffic controllers receiving reports about hijacked planes 30 minutes before the first plane struck the World Trade Center were one of the first groups of people who realized what was happening on 9/11.

Today the FAA  released a short video that shares the perspective of three air traffic controllers who worked that day. It's a sobering account of  the events of that morning and the scramble to clear the air space.  "Okay, we gotta put these aircraft on the ground," said one controller who was interviewed. "So we were working with the controllers to then tell the pilots 'you're going to have to're going to have to pick an airport...tell us where you're gonna land."

You can watch the video above, and read more about it at Fast Lane, the US DOT secretary's blog.

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Transportation Nation

Thirty Years Ago Today, Historic Air Traffic Controllers Strike Began

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

1981 picketing in front of FAA headquarters, Washington, DC (photo courtesy of FAA)

From the Department of Weird Coincidences desk:  today -- August 3rd -- is the 30th anniversary of the air traffic controllers strike.

Now, you know from reading this Transportation Nation post that air traffic controllers are on the job right now, despite the FAA shutdown. So they are not directly affected by current events -- but no doubt this date is on their minds.

From a document (pdf) on the FAA's website:

August 3, 1981: Nearly 12,300 members of the 15,000-member Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike, beginning at 7 a.m., EST, grounding approximately 35 percent of the nation's 14,200 daily commercial flights. Shortly before 11 a.m. on August 3, President Ronald Reagan issued the strikers a firm ultimatum: return to work within 48 hours or face permanent dismissal. The government moved swiftly on three fronts -- civil, criminal, and administrative -- to bring the full force of the law to bear on the strikers.

According to a 2006  NPR story, the 1981 strike "redefine(d) labor relations in America."

Labor is one of the sticking points in the current battle over a long-term, full FAA authorization bill. TN's Todd Zwillich wrote last week that while a dispute over funding rural air service is the ostensible reason for the breakdown in authorization:  "it has little to do with the actual shutdown. That’s a full-blown fight over union organizing rules in the aviation and rail industries."

Zwillich continues: "A long-term, full FAA authorization bill is stalled in House-Senate negotiations over a partisan disagreement about federal rules governing how workers can vote to unionize. Last year the National Mediation Board altered rules so that only a majority of workers voting would be needed to unionize a shop. Previously unions had to muster a majority of all workers." That makes it easier to unionize. Republicans want to overturn the ruling. Democrats don't.

There's a big difference between furloughed employees and strike actions. But the similarities? Someone's off the job, and someone's not getting paid at the FAA.


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Transportation Nation

Ray LaHood Announces Firing of Two Air Traffic Controllers

Thursday, April 21, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood went on PBS Newshour last night to dispel any worries about a string of air traffic control flubs including several sleeping controllers, one who watched a movie on the job, and another who guided the First Lady's plane too close to a military cargo aircraft.

The Department of Transportation oversees the Federal Aviation Administration. LaHood said they are taking swift action and announced the firing of two air traffic controllers.

"I'm prepared to announce tonight that we have fired two controllers after completing two investigations. We're also changing procedures have having to do with the vice president and first lady's plane when they're flying in and out of Washington airspace.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: FAA Resignation, 2,500 m.p.g. Buggy, Rail Freight Up

Friday, April 15, 2011

The official in charge of air traffic control at the FAA resigned yesterday, following a second controller falling asleep on the job. (Politico) An overhaul to the whole system is coming. (Marketplace)

Can mayors save the planet? We published our first Portuguese language post ever yesterday on this topic, but if you want a related post in English asking the same question, well, that's OK too. NYC Mayor Bloomberg teams up with Bill Clinton to take the C-40 cleaner cities initiative global. (WNYC)

The struggling commuter rail line in Minnesota's Twin Cities, the North Star Line, is doing a little better at meeting ridership expectations. Part of the reason is higher gas prices. (Pioneer Press)

Motor Trend tested out the Chevy Volt. After 818.3 miles, the team testing it say they used 6.6 gallons of gas. That's worse than expected. But Motor Trend concludes, it's worth buying. (Motor Trend)

A tougher test for one hybrid vehicle is coming up. A team plans to enter the most punishing race on four wheels, the Dakar Rally, with a hybrid-electric truck. Can the delicate electronics survive the sandy trek? (Autoblog)

Look how shiny and new. San Francisco gets a new airport terminal. (SF Gate)

"The good news is the dam is still there and it's holding steady..." A North Dakota dam is in danger of collapse, which would flood 30 homes. (AP, via Infrastructurist)

Yesterday in this post, we linked to a report that trucking freight was down 1.5 percent in February. So here's some cargo data that points in the opposite economic direction. Rail freight was up 7.9 percent in the last quarter of 2010. (Bloomberg)

The tightly watched ticketing of cyclists in New York City for road offenses continues, now handbags are a hot button issue. The dean of students at an elite prep school was ticketed for riding with a handbag on her handlebars. (NY Post) And apparently, you can blame all the bike beef on Paris. NYC Mayor Bloomberg was smitten with the bike network there after a visit and came back with the idea to replicate it in NYC. (NYT)

Next month, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will deliver the commencement address at Boston College. Chances he tells the graduates not to text and drive? Very high. (Boston Globe) Or maybe he'll tout the good work students can do. Like this impressive bunch form California in a contest to build a vehicle that uses the least fuel possible. Last year's winners got almost 2,500 m.p.g. Yes. 2,500. (Wired)

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The Takeaway

Are Air Traffic Controllers Overworked?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

After another incident of an air traffic controller falling asleep while on the job alone, the FAA announced yesterday that it will now post an extra staffer on overnight shifts in 27 control towers across the country. The incident in Nevada early Wednesday morning is the sixth time this year an air traffic controller has fallen asleep while working alone during a night shift.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: China's (Less) High-Speed Rail, Sleeping Controllers, Carsharing Meets Stock Market

Thursday, April 14, 2011

If you're wondering how all these contentious budget deals are affecting plans -- and money -- for high-speed rail, Transportation Nation's Andrea Bernstein combed through the reports to find out. (The Takeaway)

China is also putting the brakes on high-speed, but for another reason. China slows down its bullet train over safety concerns. (WSJ)

After a second air traffic controller fell asleep working the lonely night shift, the FAA has announced it will add a second controller overnights at 26 airports, including D.C.'s Reagan National. (WAMU) But are air traffic controllers just plain overworked? (The Takeaway)

ZipCar, the country's largest carsharing company, has gone public, raising more than 31 percent above the expected offering price. (Bloomberg) That's all without the company actually making a profit. Marketplace explains that's not because the model doesn't work, but because buying all those cars to expand to new cities keeps the company in the red.

If it still ruffles your feathers to pay to check a bag while flying, consider that you don't get a refund on that fee when the airlines loose your luggage. Well the DOT wants to change that. (AP) Security pat-downs are also under review. After a You Tube video showed a six-year-old enduring a security pat-down, the TSA is considering changes to the policy. (Denver Post)

IBM and U.C. Berkeley are teaming up, and using smart phones, to tackle traffic jams. (Wired)

If freight trucking is an economic indicator, this isn't the best news. Road freight shipments fell 1.5 percent in February. (TruckingInfo)

(Photo: Asian Development Bank)

The city of Mandaluyong in the Philippines just launched a plan to use electric tricycles as public transportation. It's part of a wider effort to reduce air pollution. (TheCityFix)

The Texas Rangers are suing a former team owner for planning to price gouge fans for parking at the ballpark this season. (Dallas Morning News)

Like many transit systems facing budget cutbacks, D.C. area Metro is considering cutting bus routes, increasing weekend wait times, and eliminating subsidies. It is not considering fare hikes... now. (WAMU)

Maryland has voted down a gas tax increase. They did, however, raised taxes on alcohol. But, the booze surcharge won't go to transportation projects. (WAMU)

And on NYC bike lane usage, Streetsblog takes the same data as the NY Post, but draws the opposite conclusions. People use the bike lanes a lot, they find. (Streetsblog)

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: MTA May Halve LI Bus Service, LaHood Orders Air Traffic Controller Staffing Review, and Regional Bike Share Being Explored in Boston Area

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Columbus Avenue bike lane being installed last year (photo by Kate Hinds)

NYC deputy mayor Howard Wolfson goes on the Brian Lehrer Show this morning at around 10:25 (give or take a few minuites) to counter charges that the city has gone too far with its bike lane program.

Long Island Bus may put the brakes on 27 of their 48 lines this summer because, according to MTA chairman Jay Walder, Nassau County is not paying enough toward the service's $134 million annual budget. Walder said 16,000 people may lose bus service and 200 workers will be laid off. (WNYC)

After two planes landed without being able to reach an air traffic controller at Reagan National Airport, DOT head Ray LaHood ordered an additional controller to staff the overnight shift (Washington Post) -- and a study of air traffic controller staffing at airports around the country. (AP via BusinessWeek)

Towns in the Boston area are exploring a regional bike share program. (Boston Globe)

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Accused of raiding local transit money, a Republican-led Minnesota House committee  dropped a provision from a major state transportation bill that would have shifted money from new rail projects to existing bus operations. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

The Queensboro Bridge will soon be known as the Ed Koch Bridge. (WNYC)

Vice President Joe Biden chastised Gov. Rick Scott in Tampa, saying he cost Florida thousands of jobs and cutting-edge infrastructure improvements by rejecting $2.4 billion in federal funding for high-speed rail. “Your governor, God bless him — I don’t know him — but I don’t get it,” Biden said at a private fundraising reception for Sen. Bill Nelson. (Miami Herald)

Changing Gear's Micki Maynard looks at Detroit's decline. "Sixty years ago...people in all parts of the city could walk to work, or take a streetcar or bus. Some of them chose to drive, because they earned enough to afford to vehicles they were making (something their parents and grandparents might not have been able to do)."

A day in the life of Manhattan parking court -- real life, in-person court, not the newfangled online court. (NY Times)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: The Central Park Conservancy is removing the confusing signs that led the NYPD to ticket nine cyclists improperly for speeding. What’s more, the NYPD took the unusual step of making house calls to apologize for the erroneous citations.  Speaking of Central Park: a NYC council member has introduced legislation that would ban cars from both Central and Prospect Parks. The attorney litigating the Prospect Park West bike lane lawsuit appeared on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show. And: a new transportation advocacy group grows in Houston.

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