NATCA Calls Policy "Absurd"
Weather radios brought in to the
control tower at Daytona Beach (FL) International Airport by local
FAA managers, two days after a Christmas Day tornado came
dangerously close to the airport, have since been banned by the
The Orlando Sentinel reports the agency yanked the radios
Friday... leaving controllers wondering just what, exactly, the
agency thinks about their safety.
"So they don't want controllers to know there's a tornado
outside the window?" asked Doug Church, national spokesman for the
National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "That's absurd."
As Aero-News reported, the
controllers union slammed the FAA in December for banning the
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 they were directing to land in the
vicinit of the F2 twister.
The Sentinel reports a local agency manager put two weather
radios in the tower cab December 27, saying the policy banning all
radios from work areas was not meant to prohibit weather radios...
but the FAA reiterated last week that, yes, weather radios are
banned as well, part of a blanket ban on all audio devices that
could cause distractions to controllers on duty.
That doesn't make sense to several people who went through the
tornado scare in Daytona Beach.
"Anything that provides a source of important information like
weather should be made available to controllers," said Marvin
Smith, founder of the air-traffic-management degree program at
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University -- which saw its Daytona Beach
campus ripped to shreds by the twister. "I don't care if it is an
Ouija board or carrier pigeons. You need to have vital
FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere maintains controllers at
Daytona Beach International Airport had all the information they
"Controllers have a large amount of weather information
available to them in the tower, so the weather radios are not
really necessary," Spitaliere said. "They will continue to be
banned from the facility."
The agency did acknowledge a
regional weather facility in North Florida should have warned
controllers of the tornado, but it did not. As for the weather
radar system now in place in the Daytona Beach tower, it only shows
rain levels... not wind shear activity, or other indicators of a
Spitaliere said controllers are welcome to have a weather
radio... in the break room. "It's not like these controllers are
blocked off from the outside world," she said.
NATCA's Church says the issue is all about safety... not about
listening to music on the job.
"There's no plausible reason to remove the only mechanism to
know about severe weather," Church said.
NATCA representative Kelly Raulerson added the radios put in
place after the twister sound only during tests and activations of
the Emergency Alert System -- they aren't capable of playing
"It put our mind at ease," she said. "Now we're back to zero