In the wake of last week’s deadly Hudson River aircraft collision, the Federal Aviation Administration has suspended a supervisor and the controller handling the small plane that collided with a Liberty Tours helicopter.
According to the Associated Press, the controller had cleared the small plane, a single-engine Piper, for takeoff and then made a personal call to a woman, said sources familiar with the investigation. The FAA clarified that the phone conversations that took place were inappropriate. The air traffic controller handed off the monitoring of the small plane to another airport shortly before the collision. Meanwhile, the supervisor was out of the building at the time. Both names of the employees have yet to be released.
The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA investigators learned of the aforementioned phone conversation while perusing telephone call recordings on a landline phone in the tower that controllers use to communicate with other parts of the Teterboro Airport.
While it has yet to be proven whether or not the two employee’s acts of neglect were directly in correlation with the crash, they were placed on administrative leave with pay. Of the air traffic controller and supervisor’s actions, the agency stated, “This kind of conduct is unacceptable and we have placed the employees on administrative leave and have begun disciplinary proceedings.” The National Air Traffic Controllers Association said in a statement that they agree to a full investigation into the two employees’ actions “before there is a rush to judgment.”
The FAA is putting together a group of safety and air traffic experts to discuss the possible enactment of some recommended safety measures for the Hudson corridor. The agency sent out a reminder to pilots flying through the are to follow those measures. This entails tuning into a radio frequency where they can communicate with each other, flying at speeds less than 140 knots, and turning on their lights.
Current measures will be reviewed by the agency and decisions will be made as to whether changes should be made
Three members of a Pennsylvania family on the plane and five Italian tourists and a pilot on the helicopter were killed when the two stricken aircraft plunged into the Hudson river on Saturday.