Ed. note: The staff here at the Air Ambulance Weekly blog would like to point out in advance that we do not mean to be “picking on” air traffic controllers as of late – we are merely telling you about the current newsworthy events in the air medical industry that are being reported. The news media is currently watching closely and reporting heavily on air traffic control mishaps. In addition, the FAA is battling bad press and has been taking actions and enforcing new policies due to these incidents which affect everyone in all aspects of the aviation industry.
With the disclaimer out of the way, a lone air traffic controller at Reno-Tahoe International Airport fell asleep around 2am as an air ambulance carrying a patient tried to land on the runway. The pilot repeatedly tried to contact the tower for guidance. Receiving no response, he radioed a regional facility in Oakland, who tried to reach the sleeping controller.
FAA Finds 2nd Air Traffic Controller Made Bed in Tower, Slept as 4 Lifeguard Air Ambulances Tried to Land
The FAA recently discovered another case of an overworked air traffic controller falling asleep in the tower. This comes approximately two weeks after a controller at Reagan National Airport accidentally fell asleep on the overnight shift, leaving the tower silent, and also leaving 2 planes and 165 passengers to circle the runway and eventually land on their own. The controller in this case was actually a supervisor performing the duties of a controller, on his fourth consecutive overnight shift.
However, the newly discovered case at a Knoxville airport actually occurred before the Reagan incident. In this one, air traffic controller made headlines by fully preparing for his on-duty nap – falling asleep in a makeshift bed he had constructed out of couch cushions from the employee breakroom and a blanket.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, government employees whose jobs involve air safety will continue to go to work even if the government shuts down this week due to the much-talked about budget stalemate. The Washington Post reported that although many non-critical functions of the FAA would be suspended, an official from the agency has reassured them that they “will retain all employees necessary to keep the national airspace system operating safely.”
TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) employees would continue to work as well; the same going for Air Traffic Controllers.
However, some administrative services that the government provides for aircraft, such as aircraft certification, will be suspended — if the government actually shuts down, that is.
NextGen, the satellite-based FAA project we reported on last year that is designed to increase the safety and dependability of air traffic over a period of years, would be suspended in the event of a temporary shutdown as well.
An air ambulance responding to an injury accidentally shredded a telephone line while taking off from a road in British Columbia, Canada — and it was all caught on video.
A man had fallen roughly 15 feet into a water-filled ditch while pruning trees from a tractor bucket, injuring his back. First responders said the man’s body was submerged halfway in the water at the bottom of the trench.
It was decided that due to the severity of the man’s back injuries and the distance from medical facilities, a helicopter was needed to transport the man to the hospital. Firefighters lifted him out of the water and transferred him to a medical helicopter that had landed on the road. However, immediately after taking off, the rear rotor of the helicopter hit a telephone line. The pilot felt the vibrations and landed in the clearing next to the road to be safe.
A question occasionally posed to those in the aviation industry is “how are aircraft affected by earthquakes?” The automatic response given to this question is often something along the lines of “airplanes fly above them.” And so, the question lives on – unanswered – in the mind of the curious inquirer.
Everyone is aware of the effects earthquakes can have on buildings, roads, and ground vehicles. Unfortunately, we have seen these effects illustrated in the recent devastation in Japan.
It may seem unlikely at first that an aircraft that spends so much time so far removed from the surface of the earth could be majorly affected by a specifically ground-based natural disaster. Yet, with more aircraft taking off and landing at all times than ever before, let alone all the aircraft and crews sitting on the ground at any one time, it’s not entirely unreasonable or trivial to wonder: Are they affected?