Rockefeller Cautions LaHood on Air Traffic Control at National Airport

April 5, 2011

Chairman RockefellerWASHINGTON, D.C.—Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV today made the following statement after sending a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressing concern about air traffic controller staffing levels nationwide and the possible threat to passenger safety. This follows a recent incident at Washington National Airport (DCA) where two planes landed without clearance after they experienced radio silence from the DCA control tower. 

“Missteps endanger lives. We must have adequate staffing levels and guarantee the safety and well-being of travelers at all times. The latest safety scare happened at Washington National, an airport that’s immediately adjacent to the Pentagon, the White House and the Capitol. The stakes are way too high, and just one mistake can jeopardize innocent lives. This is a wakeup call for anyone who thinks that broad-based cuts to our aviation system can occur without real safety implications for the traveling public. Even with the most experienced air traffic controllers on the job, it is clear that we need smarter protocols in place to meet the demands of our nation’s aviation system.”