DFW Emergency Handling Redux


According to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, an ABC News story — cited in Monday’s AVwebFlash — regarding a controller’s emergency handling on Aug. 31 of an American Airlines jetliner at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport “left out huge gaps.” NATCA Dallas TRACON representative Mike Conely maintains that it was the “operational supervisor in charge’s decision,” not that of the controller heard on the tapes, to require the low-on-fuel Boeing 757 to land on Runway 31R instead of the requested Runway 17C. An FAA Quality Assurance Review obtained by AVweb states that the supervisor “advised” the controller to clear the airplane to 31R, which corresponded with the general flow of traffic that day. However, Conely says “advised” is code for “required,” insisting that if the controller had issued other instructions to the crew then he would have faced actions for insubordination. “Controllers rely on the supervisor to shut down the airport or runways. Despite the supervisor’s bad decision,” he said, “the on-duty controllers did everything they could to clear the air to get the American Airlines airplane down safely and quickly. Emergencies always take priority – period.” Conely admitted that had the airline crew forced the issue, then the supervisor would have had to stop operations at DFW until the jet landed on whatever runway the crew chose.