Controllers Reveal Risk That Could Cause Plane Collisions

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
September 15, 2015 Updated: September 15, 2015

WASHINGTON— Air traffic controllers have exposed a problem that they say increases the risk of planes colliding or flying dangerously close.

The Office of Special Counsel, an office that protects government whistleblowers, released letters Tuesday detailing the safety risk raised by five air traffic controllers in Detroit. The problem affects the safety of planes nationwide.

The counsel said the problem occurs when pilots, air traffic control centers and airline dispatchers revise flight plans that have already been filed. The computers that controllers use don’t automatically identify that multiple flight plans have been filed. This can result in a controller clearing a flight for departure based on an outdated plan, and the pilots flying a route not anticipated or planned for by the controller.

The Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed the problem.