Review of Staffing at FAA's Combined Radar Approach Control and Tower With Radar Facilities
On March 16, we issued our review of staffing at FAA combined radar approach control and tower with radar facilities. We conducted the review at the request of Representatives James Oberstar and Jerry Costello after the August 27, 2006 crash of Comair Flight 5191 in Lexington, Kentucky. FAA issued verbal guidance in August 2005 - a year prior to the crash - reiterating that two controllers should be on duty during midnight shifts at facilities with both radar and tower functions. We found that the guidance, because it was communicated orally, was misinterpreted and inconsistently applied. Since the Comair accident, FAA has formalized the verbal guidance into a written order which was, in our opinion, an appropriate and necessary action. We recommended that FAA: (1) communicate changes in air traffic policies in writing to ensure uniform implementation and compliance; and (2) develop and implement appropriate policies and procedures to ensure that facilities are complying with provisions of the new order. FAA concurred with our recommendations and is taking appropriate actions to address them.