The skies above Newark Liberty International Airport are a disaster waiting to happen, according to federal investigators who are concerned about the simultaneous use of intersecting runways. Problems arise when a plane needs to abort its landing — which occurs about once every 700 flights at Newark. Current protocol forces the diverted plane to make a sharp right turn directly across the flight path of planes taking off and landing, "allowing little margin for error," according to CNN.

Four times last year and four times this year so far, planes have flown too close to each other, and in one of those instances in January 2008, two Continental planes came within 600 feet of striking each other. "That was very scary. I was there for that one personally in the control tower, and it scared the heck out of everybody up there," said Ray Adams, a Newark air traffic controller, who has pushed the Federal Aviation Administration to make changes to ensure that close calls — and midair collisions — never occur. "There was a distinct possibility that we could have had a collision with these operations."

After Adams complained to the FAA and a congressional delegation about the issue, he says he was punished by getting put on paid leave for 11 months, then unpaid leave for a month. The FAA maintains the punishment had nothing to do with his whistle-blowing, and promised the U.S. Department of Transportation it would use a computer program in October to help air traffic controllers maintain safe spacing between flights. But federal investigators discovered that the system wasn't being used and won't be in place until mid-December, and they have taken up the issue with President Obama, noting: "we found a substantial likelihood that FAA officials were engaging in conduct that constitutes gross mismanagement and a substantial and specific danger to public safety."