Skimping On Fuel Leads To More "Emergencies"

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At busy Newark Liberty International Airport, just outside New York, 73 flights landed after telling controllers they were operating with minimum or low fuel during six months this year, compared to just five flights making the same declaration during a similar period in 2005. An additional 10 flight crews declared an emergency fuel situation, requesting to land immediately, according to WABC News. The WABC report blames cash-strapped airlines for pressuring their crews to carry minimum fuel, saving money by cutting weight on the flights. "They're taking away the margin of safety," former NTSB Chairman James Hall told WABC. "Seeing numbers like that, the FAA administrators should be calling the airlines in on the carpet and find out what's going on." WABC also cites anonymous reports from NASA's aviation safety reporting system in which one pilot says an airline's "fuel saving program takes preference over safety," and another writes, "It's a case of dice rolling at its most dangerous."

Air traffic controller Ray Adams told WABC that in the last two years he's noticed an astounding increase in the number of flights coming into Newark under minimum or emergency fuel conditions.