2007_06_planeairport.jpgAs long as the air traffic controllers union is trying to get more controllers hired, we have a feeling we'll be hearing more stories like this one: According to the Post, there were five "near collisions" at NYC area airports last month. The head of the air traffic controllers union Phil Barbarello said, "Air travelers should be seriously concerned about their safety. The margin of safety is as low as I have ever seen, and I've been with the agency [FAA] for 23 years." Eek!

The Post has a graphic detailing the incidents: In one instance, an American Eagle Embraer 145 plane was within 200 feet of a helicopter at JFK; in another, a Continental Express Embraer 145 was within 300 feet vertically from a recreational glider at Newark. And at Stewart, a Jetblue Airbus 320 was within 800 feet vertically and 30 feet horizontally another aircraft. A "near-miss" is "two planes flying less than 500 feet apart. They are supposed to be kept 3 miles apart horizontally and 1,000 feet vertically."

Senator Charles Schumer has been criticizing the FAA for the lack of air traffic controllers for a while. JFK, LaGuardia and Newark are understaffed by 30% and having less controllers causes airport delays.

Photograph by Vidiot on Flickr