The First and Second Ladies' Near-Miss

The First and Second Ladies' Near-Miss

What’s up with air traffic controllers these days? Falling asleep on the job: check. Caught watching movies instead of planes: check. Nearly killing First Lady Michelle Obama and her faithful sidekick Jill Biden? Now they’re really in trouble.

Published April 20, 2011

What’s up with air traffic controllers these days? Falling asleep on the job: check. Caught watching movies instead of planes: check. Nearly killing First Lady Michelle Obama and her faithful sidekick Jill Biden? Now they’re really in trouble.

As the Washington Post reports, Obama and Biden were returning home after an appearance on The View and other events when the White House plane they were in “came dangerously close to a 200-ton military cargo jet and had to abort its landing at Andrews Air Force Base as the result of an air-traffic controller’s mistake.” Apparently, there wasn’t enough room for the White House plane to land safely. CBS News obtained an audio recording of the controllers discussing the landing.

The Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation into the near-accident. FAA officials said that the plane was “never in any danger,” but according to the Post, such near misses are becoming a dangerous habit.

“The number of air traffic controller errors where planes come too close to each other have increased dramatically in the past year. They still account for only a tiny portion of all flights, and very few of the errors put passengers at risk. The FAA classified Monday’s error as an ‘A,’” the most serious type, the Post reports. In addition, a federal official told the publication that, “In the grand scheme of things, events like this happen fairly frequently. Unfortunately, this one involves a presidential plane.”

Hopefully Republican deficit hawks aren’t targeting FAA’s budget for deep cuts. In fact, they need to find a way to increase the troubled agency’s bottom line so it can hire more competent workers.

 

 

(Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Written by Joyce Jones

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