Says Let NTSB Investigate To Determine Cause
A statement earlier
this week from NATCA -- saying the FAA's decision to cut
staffing at TRACONS and shift approach control duties to Indy
center may have contributed to two crashes -- has been called into
question by the FAA.
Local NATCA reps at the Terre Haute TRACON said the FAA has cut
staffing at its facility. With a procedural change requiring at
least two controllers on duty at all times, NATCA says manning
doesn't allow the facility to remain open at night. When it closes,
responsibility for approach control duties passes to Indianapolis
Twice in the past year aircraft making night approaches under
Indy center control have crashed. NATCA says that's not a
FAA Great Lakes Region spokesman Tony Molinaro disputes the
claim. He's questioned why NATCA is assigning blame before the NTSB
accident reports are complete. Those reports are likely months
Molinaro told IndyStar.com, "The NTSB is the sole organization
that can determine cause. Let the NTSB do their work."
NATCA maintains that local controllers have a more intimate
knowledge of the procedures and pitfalls for the area they work. It
says center controllers, while trained to provide approach
services, can't give the job the care it needs when their attention
is divided between approach and enroute traffic.
The FAA says its Indianapolis controllers are well-trained and
perfectly capable of handling approach duties at night. The agency
says it handed night approach duties to Indy center because of
light overnight air traffic. Before the procedural change Terre
Haute's TRACON controllers handled just two planes per midnight
The FAA has been
jousting with NATCA for several years over staffing and pay issues.
Indeed, many organizations that work with or for the FAA are
concerned as the current funding mechanism for the FAA runs out
next year. Many are scrambling to ensure any new FAA funding
initiatives don't take a bite of their slice of the pie.
AOPA Spokesman Chris Dancy wouldn't comment on the specifics of
the two crashes in question, but he did say, "Local knowledge is an
added benefit, but the controllers at another facility are equally