If the United States Government is responsible for an accident, it can be sued just like any other wrongdoer under the Federal Tort Claims Act. But there’s an important exception — the federal government cannot be sued for bad decisions that the government left to the federal employee’s best judgment. The "Discretionary Function Exception"
Air Traffic Control
Air Traffic Control: “Where in God’s Name are You Going?”
In the end, no harm done. But certainly an example of an air traffic controller having a bad day. Note: at 32 seconds the controller assigns the Challenger a heading of 180.
FAA Kept Sleeping Controllers Study Results Secret
Air traffic controllers fall asleep on the job. At least they do occasionally. That came as big news in 2011, when two airliners landed at Washington’s Reagan National Airport without ATC help because the lone controller was snoozing. No injuries there, but in 2006 a Comair regional jet crashed while taking off in Kentucky, killing…
Air Traffic Controllers Sleeping on Duty: A Simple Solution?
There’s not a lot of air traffic at night. So some air traffic control towers close altogether. Any landing aircraft is on its own. Other air traffic control towers are staffed with just one controller. Not surprisingly, lone controllers working the night shift tend to doze off.
That little secret is now out. That led…
Hudson Mid-Air: NTSB’s Comments Supported by Audio Recording?
NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman’s recent testimony before congress concerning the mid-air collision over the Hudson raises more questions than it answers. She stated that the Teterboro controller instructed the Piper pilot to switch to frequency 127.85 to contact the Newark controller. But before leaving the Teterboro frequency, according to Hersman, the pilot read back to…
Helicopter – Airplane Mid-Air Collision Over the Hudson: NTSB Boots It
Mid-Air Collision Over The Hudson: Airplanes and Helicopters Don’t Mix Well
Compared to pilots in other countries, pilots in the US have extraordinary freedom. Of course, to keep commercial airliners safe from collisions, pilots of small aircraft are excluded from certain airspace near major airports unless they have first obtained a clearance from air traffic controllers. If a pilot obtains the necessary clearance, controllers will dictate the…
Suing the United States Government for an Air Traffic Controller’s Negligence
Air traffic controllers work within the guidelines set forth in the Controller’s Handbook (pdf), which they often call "the Bible." The Handbook is hundreds of pages long, and controllers must follow it to the letter. If they deviate and an accident results, the Federal Tort Claims Act permits the victim to sue the FAA for negligence.