NEWPORT NEWS -- An air traffic controller whose actions were cited as the main cause of a deadly mid-air collision over the Hudson River in 2009 has the same job at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, according to WPIX-TV.
The New York TV station reports that Carlyle Turner was on duty at the Teterboro Airport in the early afternoon of August 8, 2009 when a small airplane collided with a sightseeing helicopter over the Hudson River. Nine people died in the incident.
According to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board, Turner was on the phone for two minutes instead of monitoring radio traffic. Because Turner was on the phone, the report says, he was unable to re-direct the airplane pilot to the proper radio frequency where he could have been warned about the oncoming helicopter.
"The Teterboro Airport local controller did not correct the airplane pilot's read back of the Newark Liberty International Airport tower frequency because of the controller's nonpertinent telephone conversation and other transmissions that were occurring," the report says.
Turner violated policies and procedures leading up to the deadly crash, the document states.
"Both the local controller and the front-line manager demonstrated noncompliance with established ATC procedures and a lack of good judgment during the time surrounding the accident," the report reads.
Despite the findings of the NTSB report, Turner is now working as an air traffic controller at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, according to WPIX-TV.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees air traffic controllers, declined to confirm that Turner is assigned the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport or discuss specifics of his employment. But the agency said Turner was entitled to the same protections as other federal employees, despite the fact that his violation of policies led to a deadly crash.
"Controllers have the same due-process rights as other federal employees and also are covered by the provisions of the national Air Traffic Controllers Association contract," a spokesman for the FAA said.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operates the safest aviation system in the world. The FAA achieves that record by investigating every accident and incident that occurs in the system to determine whether it could pursue further improvements to continue to enhance aviation safety. Non-punitive safety reporting systems also encourage controllers and other aviation professionals to report safety incidents so the FAA can fully understand what happened and implement any necessary corrective actions. If the FAA determines an act a controller committed that led to an incident or accident was intentional or grossly negligent, the controller is excluded from using those non-punitive systems. However, controllers have the same due-process rights as other federal employees and also are covered by the provisions of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association contract. Federal privacy laws preclude the FAA from disclosing personnel information about specific employees.