WASHINGTON (AP) - Safety experts are puzzled about why reports of mistakes by air traffic controllers have nearly doubled in a time of unparalleled aviation safety in the United States.
The Federal Aviation Administration says in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2010, there were 1,889 operation errors -- usually aircraft coming too close together. During the same period a year earlier, there were 947 errors. And the year before that -- 1,008 errors.
One air traffic controller at the facility in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., says there's a lax atmosphere in the control room. Evan Seeley says he's complained to the Transportation Department's inspector general and to the Office of Special Counsel about controllers sometimes watching movies and playing with electronic devices during nighttime shifts when traffic is slower.
Seeley says the response was his demotion to the position of frontline manager.
The facility where Seeley works handled the latest near midair collision of an American Airlines jet with 259 people aboard and two Air Force transport planes southeast of New York City.