DFW Controllers Botch Emergency Handling

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Controllers at Dallas-Fort Worth International's regional TRACON have been given a refresher on the meaning of the words "we need to get on the ground right away, please" after they denied an American Airlines 757 priority handling, despite the fact that the crew declared an emergency. According to ABC News, which broke the story last week, the incident happened on Aug. 31 when the crew reported a fuel shortage, possibly due to a leak. When the crew asked for a straight-in approach to runway 17C to get the airplane and its passengers on the ground quickly, the TRACON controller twice denied the request. In the end, the aircraft circled to Runway 31R and landed uneventfully. But the tape–which we review in today's podcast has been used as a training aid to remind controllers of the nuances of pilot phraseology. According to FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown, the controller in question was unclear just how sweaty-browed this pilot was. "This was a situation where there was confusion about the term 'minimal fuel' and 'fuel emergency,'" Brown told the Houston Chronicle. "The controller was confused about the distinction."