Report: Federal Air Safety Program Falling Short

By JOAN LOWY | July 25, 2012

A government watchdog says a program that encourages air traffic controllers to report their mistakes is amassing data, but the information isn’t being effectively used to improve safety.

A report by the Transportation Department’s inspector general released Monday said significant improvements will be needed to make the Federal Aviation Administration program effective in identifying and addressing safety risks. The program promises not to punish controllers for mistakes they report, a way to gather safety data so that the agency can spot trends and take corrective action.

The program has been the FAA’s primary answer to the problem of controller errors that can bring planes dangerously close together.

A controllers’ union official disagreed, saying the program has successfully identified and fixed numerous local and systemic safety problems.

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