Will Congress Take Action?
The senator from New York is not the only voice in Washington calling for change. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., and Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., who are both on the House transportation committee, have demanded an investigation by the Transportation Department's inspector general, USA Today reports. "In aviation, there's no curb to pull over and look under the hood," Oberstar said. "What you're always looking for is widening the margin of safety." On Tuesday, The Associated Press reported that a control tower supervisor at Lexington had filed an anonymous safety report with NASA in 2004. The supervisor reported the airport's radar system wasn't working properly but managers refused to call in a mechanical specialist because it would mean paying two hours of overtime. The supervisor said staffing in Lexington was a "low priority to the powers above us," and added, "Those types of poorly thought out decisions can cost lives." FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown responded to the AP regarding the NASA memo. "The anonymous report from 2004 appears to express concern about maintenance technicians, not air traffic controllers. We don't have a staff problem in general at control towers," she said.