Without the diligent work of air traffic controllers, pilots would be effectively blind in the sky and unable to avoid a multitude of hazards. Air traffic controllers control flight paths, notify pilots when dangers are present, prevent midair collisions and respond to emergencies with decisive solutions. While they are responsible for the safe travel of millions of people, the slightest error on behalf of an air traffic controller can also prove to result in chaos and disaster both in the skies and on the ground. For this reason, it is important that each air traffic controller is properly trained and certified and is able to be alert and attentive.Fatigue and Staffing Concerns Recurring Issues in Incidents Involving Air Traffic Controllers
The primary cause of air controller error is fatigue— often caused by extended shifts and overtime. Rather than hiring and training additional controllers, airports are operating with smaller crews at the risk of the people who depend on them to get to their destinations safely. Tiredness results in a loss of concentration, slower response time and poor decision making. Yet, many air traffic controllers are forced to work extended shifts with only nine to ten hours of rest in between. This is unacceptable considering just how many lives are dependent on the ability of air traffic controllers to perform their duties.Types of Air Controller Error
Pilots of smaller aircraft do not have access to the same equipment commercial airline pilots do and must rely on information provided to them by air traffic controllers to navigate and make adjustments in order to avoid turbulence and other hazards. The types of errors made by air traffic controllers include the following.
- Failure to communicate a hazard— Many small aircraft are considered visual only craft as they do not use instruments or designated routes to determine flight paths. It is often the case that an air traffic controller will not provide a warning to these aircraft when a warning could prevent an accident. The excuse is often that such warnings are only owed to the aircrafts with those aircraft flying by instruments. It has been found, however, that the failure to issue warnings to visual only aircraft resulted in accidents and the air traffic control was held liable for the failure to provide warnings to those craft.
- Improper management of air traffic— Weather conditions can make it difficult to track and manage numerous planes when the airways become congested. In addition to managing multiple flight paths, air controllers must take into consideration the impact the weather has on each aircraft and ensure the safe passage of each flight. On occasion, air traffic controllers mismanage air traffic, resulting in an accident.
- Air traffic controller fatigue— As previously mentioned, fatigue is a growing concern among aviators and air traffic controllers, who are more tired in recent years than they have ever been before. Those who are too tired to maintain focus and react quickly to rapidly changing conditions in the sky should be relieved of duty in order to get the rest required to return to their duties alert and attentive to the needs of those who depend on them.
If you or someone you love was involved in an aviation accident, contact us today for a free consultation with an attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers. You may be entitled to compensation if it is found that the accident was the result of negligence on part of a pilot, mechanic or air traffic controller’s failure to properly perform his or her duties. We will be happy to answer any questions you have and examine the details of your case as well as your legal options and how best to proceed with your case.