Kentucky Congressman Schedules Hearing on Tower Controllers

Kentucky Congressman Ben Chandler has scheduled a hearing in the U.S. House next week on air traffic control issues. Chandler said Federal Aviation Administration officials assured him Sept. 6, 2006, that all FAA tower managers understood the need for at least two controllers in towers at all times.

Chandler said just six days later, both Lexington and Louisville reported a shortage of controllers. He noted that the Blue Grass Airport tower had only one controller on the midnight shift when Comair Flight 5191 crashed. He said that's contrary to FAA policy.

Chandler is a member of the House subcommittee that will conduct the hearing.

Democratic Reps. James Oberstar of Minnesota and Jerry Costello of Illinois have asked the Department of Transportation's inspector general to examine FAA controller staffing before and after the Lexington, Ky., crash. U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning met with representatives of the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board Sept. 14, 2006, for briefings on the accident, and he also raised the staffing issue.