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Flying Public Used as Guinea Pigs – Delays Caused and Fuel Wasted To Fulfill FAA Supervisor's Training Requirements - (10/14/2008)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Last Saturday at approximately 4:10 p.m. EDT an FAA Supervisor at Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center ordered several air traffic controllers to issue new routes to four flights for the purpose of generating more traffic for a trainee undergoing a skills check – when a supervisor observes a trainee to see if he or she is ready to be certified to work that sector without direct supervision by a certified air traffic controller. 

The new routings were issued to the four flights around Wilmington, N.C. and it required four carriers (a Delta Airlines B757, a Virgin Airways B747 and two Southwest Airlines B737s) to fly in excess of 100 miles further and took them from a routing that was clear of weather and forced them to fly through thunderstorms.  When questioned by the Virgin Airlines pilot as to the reason for the reroute, the supervisor ordered the controller to advise the pilot that it was due to weather.

Said Jacksonville Center Facility Representative Dave Cook:  “While these skills checks are a normal part of the life of a trainee, forcing the airlines to fly further goes against the very grain of the service that air traffic control provides.  Forcing air carriers full of passengers to fly through hazardous weather is needlessly endangering people’s lives – and the FAA Supervisor doing so to meet his training requirements is reckless.”


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