Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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Search results for "air traffic controllers" ...

  • Below The Radar

    Mario Diaz exposed several of air traffic controllers returning to FAA towers or control centers with little or no accountability shortly after being a contributing factor to a deadly crash. As detailed in the series of “Below The Radar” reports, these crashes resulted in 104 deaths. The litigation produced from several of these crashes came at a steep price to American taxpayers. Diaz uncovered public records (Department of Treasury and Federal judgements) indicating that the Federal Government made either verdict or settlement payments in excess of $100-million dollars to the estate of the victims --- including the estate of the pilots involved in these crashes.
  • From the Tower, Voices From the Sky

    A two-part ABC News investigation attempts to find a fresh angle to the story of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The first report tells what happened through the eyes of the air traffic controllers at Dulles International Airport. One of the findings is that American 11 that crashed into the Pentagon had most probably targeted the White House at first but the terrorists could not see it well because the sun was in their eyes. The second part broadcasts "the actual sound of hijackers storming the cockpit" of United 93 which crashed into a Pennsylvania field.
  • Got the World on a String

    Kansas City looks at the work of air traffic controllers at the Olathe Center, and reveals that they might be "just puppets or airline greed." The report finds that the controllers "may be the traffic cop in the skies, but ... [they are] ... not in charge of what happens on the ground." The story describes the stress of the job, and sheds light on the practices of random alcohol and drug testing at the traffic control center. The reporter finds that air traffic controllers "in fact are neither cops nor lords," as pilots often refuse to listen to their advice. A major finding is that controllers have a computer program that "would just make everybody fall into line," but are forced not to use it. The reason: "If such a rigid system were in place all the time, airlines couldn't pretend all those flights were leaving at 5;01 p.m."
  • Plane Speaking

    NBC News Dateline reports on "a simple, yet deadly problem: mis-communication between commercial pilots and air traffic controllers." The investigation reveals that although "English is the defacto language of aviation, ... a lack of oversight has led to a breakdown in simple communication." It documents how poor language skills have hindered communication between foreign pilots and U.S. controllers, as well as between American pilots and controllers abroad. The report shows that the problem is widespread, because the Federal Aviation has failed to enforce a standard. The investigation uncovers a tape "that documented how poor language skill contributed to the crash of an American Airlines plane into the side of a mountain in Cali, Columbia." It also details numerous differences between the standard aviation phraseology in the U.S.A. and the rest of the world.
  • How 2 Pacific Nations Became Oceanic Aces of Air-Traffic Control

    The Journal reveals that U.S. air traffic controllers in Oakland, Calif., who each monitor about 15 trans-Pacific flights at a time, still use strips of paper to track planes across their assigned expanse of ocean. The FAA' s technology for routing jumbo jets across open ocean - beyond the reach of radar - hasn't changed since the 1970s. The Journal says that the FAA was supposed to have updated the system long ago, but it pulled the plug on its overhaul in the late 1990s after cost overruns.
  • The fall of EgyptAir 990

    Scarry hypothesizes on several theories that may lead to an explanation of the crash of EgyptAir 990, the most notable being EgyptAir's curious flight pattern directly though military exercise zones and several technical difficulties on the ground that caused some confusion for air traffic controllers; also examines the crash of TWA flight 800 and Swissair flight 111.
  • Into Thick Air

    Last year was the safest in U.S. aviation history, the first ever without a death due to an accident. But with the number of flights expected to double over the next decade, air traffic controllers warn that gridlock in the sky--already a strain on their outmoded equipment and a cause of delays--is raising the potential for disaster.
  • Danger in the Sky

    The I-Team recieved a complaint from several Air Traffic Controllers at DFW-Airport claiming they were having a very difficult time seeing aircrafts on radar. At any given time controllers may have 500 to 1000 aircrafts on their screen. The problem is old monochrome monitors where an aircraft appears as a tiny dot on the screen, making it impossible to seperate one plane form another.
  • Dangerous airports

    WBNS looks at two Ohio airports and finds runway designs which confuse pilots, leading to mistakes that put lives in jeopardy. Cleveland's airport leads the nation in runway incursions, an instance where a plane taxis onto an active runway without permission from air traffic controllers.
  • (Untitled)

    KUTV found that the Salt Lake City International Airport is one of the most dangerous airports in the United States, something only the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its air traffic controllers were aware of. The series discovered that near misses and dangerous mistakes at the airport are a regular occurrence as air traffic controllers make errors in their juedgments. Equipment failures also account for some of the errors. During a 15 minure radio outage, seven planes wandered into disaster's way, missing collisions bu just a few hundred feet. (May 6-7, 1996)