Says Controllers Unable To Monitor Funnel Clouds
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is again
protesting a ban by the FAA on banning radios in air traffic
control towers. Denver controllers said last week they only learned
about a funnel cloud near the airport when someone notified them
there had been a tornado warning on television.
Also last week, a funnel cloud was spotted about a mile
northeast of Tulsa International Airport's FAA tower, said Scott
Keller, the controllers association Tulsa representative. He said
the only way controllers found out about that funnel was from an
employee's wife who phoned the tower to warn them.
"These folks are sitting ducks," said NATCA spokesman Doug
Church. "It's about punishing controllers; there is no distraction
to a work environment that has a regular radio on."
The FAA had all AM/FM radios removed from tower work areas to
prevent them from distracting controllers under a contract imposed
on controllers in September, according to the Associated Press.
NATCA contends the ban removes a "key asset" for controllers to
monitor funnel clouds and warn pilots.
Union representative Michael Coulter said Denver's tornado
warning siren was faint and barely heard from the tower, and rain
was so heavy that controllers were unable see the funnel cloud.
As ANN reported, the
controllers union slammed the FAA in December for banning radios in
the first place, saying the lack of suitable weather reporting
equipment put controllers in danger... as well as those onboard a
Comair regional jet controllers were directing to land in the
vicinity of an F2 twister that hit Daytona Beach International
Airport on Christmas Day.
A local agency manager put two weather radios in the DAB tower
cab December 27, saying the policy banning all radios from work
areas was not meant to prohibit weather radios... but the FAA
reiterated weather radios are part of a blanket ban on all
audio devices that could cause distractions to controllers on
NATCA says that left controllers
wondering what, exactly, the agency thinks about their safety. In a
release, the union claims the FAA's September decision to ban
weather radios, commercial radios and cell phones from its air
traffic control facilities placed air traffic controllers in
"Without access to critical severe weather information, the FAA
is not only showing a blatant disregard for its employees but also
for the flying public," said Kelly Raulerson, NATCA's Daytona Beach
facility representative. "Before this ban went into effect, we used
to hear frequent tests of the Emergency Broadcast System on the
radio in the tower that we kept on. We certainly needed to hear
that familiar alert on Monday. Instead, we were cut off from the
world and left in a very vulnerable position."
"This is a situation that defies all measure of common sense and
responsibility," said NATCA Executive Vice President Paul Rinaldi.
"The FAA removed the radios as part of its imposed work rules in an
effort to punish controllers. But it's turning out to be a fateful
decision that has serious, life or death consequences that clearly
the agency foolishly overlooked. We call upon the FAA to
immediately put back all radios and life-saving communications