"The failure of the pilot of N4903F, the Cessna 172, and the pilot of N759XA , the Cessna 182, to see and avoid each other while operating in Class E airspace, resulting in a midair collision. Contributing to the accident was the lack of traffic information being provided to the pilot of the Cessna 182 about known traffic in the vicinity, due to the controller forgetting about the Cessna 172's reported path and altitude."
Echster From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 398 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 1684 times:
Well, the controller was partially at fault. It was, nonetheless, an award higher than should have been given, IMHO. If you read the NTSB report, you'll get this info:
1. Contract tower staffed with 1 controller (well, that's not verbatim in the report but it's what happened). Said controller was working Local, Ground, Flight Data, and Clearance Delivery. It was a one-man show.
2. Although both aircraft were VFR and should be "seeing and avoiding", the ATCer should have known both aircraft were in (leaving or inbound) his airspace. He should have issued traffic advisories.
3. He didn't because he was issuing an IFR clearance for a departing aircraft on the Ground frequency.
4. He told aircraft #1 on initial contact to report east (in other words, when he was out of his airspace). When aircraft #2 was inbound for landing, he didn't catch the call sign because he was listening to the pilot readback his IFR clearance. He then says maintain VFR and freq change approved. He assumed it was aircraft #1 reporting clear of the airspace when it was actually the inbound aircraft.
5. Aircraft #2 then calls back for landing instructions and the controller has him enter the pattern.
6. Controller failed to use aircraft call sign when he assumed the 1st aircraft was clear. Had he used the call sign, aircraft #2 could have said they were the aircraft calling, or aircraft #1 could have said they were clear. This assumption and subsequent mix-up was a fairly big error.
I've said before and I'll say again this is how the companies that run contract towers make their money. They bid on the towers then staff them with the fewest controllers possible. Roughly 90-95% of contract towers in the US are manned with 1 controller per shift. It is the FAA's dirty little secret. If you've ever seen dollar figures on what an FAA tower costs to run versus a contract tower, staffing - or lack thereof - is the main reason.