Saturday, 15 August 2009

Hudson mid-air

Alongside the speculation and rumour, the facts of this accident are starting to emerge. According to the NTSB, the Teterboro controller working the Saratoga called the pilot 40 seconds before the collision with a frequency change instruction (Newark on 127.85). Also according to the NTSB, there were several potential conflicts ahead of the aircraft that the pilot wasn't told of. While the Teterboro controller was confirming the Newark frequency, the Newark controller was calling the Teterboro controller to ask him to give avoiding instructions to the Saratoga pilot. Although calls were made there was no response.

The Teterboro controller was engaged in a 'non-business related' telephone call at the time of the accident. That call is widely reported to have been to his girlfriend. Both the controller, and the ATC supervisor who was not present at the time, have been suspended by the FAA. Although the FAA has stated that there is currently no reason to believe that the controllers' behavior led to the accident, they are both likely to be dismissed.

The area is covered by TIS, traffic data that is uplinked via a Mode S transponder and displayed in the cockpit if suitable equipment is fitted (typically a GNS430/530 in older aircraft). If the traffic is seen by radar (as it was in this case) then it too would be uplinked. The equipment fit of each aeroplane has not been released.

There's a YouTube video of the collision, reportedly made by friends of the five Italian tourists who were in the Liberty Tours Squirrel.

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