Paper: Philly Air Control Errors Increase in 2010

A newspaper says reports of errors by Philadelphia International Airport air traffic controllers almost doubled last year, mirroring a national surge of controller errors despite increased aviation safety.

The Philadelphia Inquirer said there were 20 operation errors last year, meaning aircraft came too close together. That’s up from just 11 in 2009, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Only two incidents were in the most serious category, while most were classified as less serious and some went uncategorized.

Ninety-one controllers handle 3,500 operations a day at Philadelphia International Airport, including takeoffs, landings, and the flights of corporate, private, and military planes within a 60-mile radius.

Scott Dunham of the National Transportation Safety Board says it’s important to focus on the severity, and many low-level errors may not be very significant.