Is It Safe To Fly?46:22

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With Jane Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook.

Another air traffic controller napping on the job. Troubles on the tarmac. What’s going on?

Planes taxi at New York's JFK Airport. (AP)
Planes taxi at New York's JFK Airport. (AP)

Every day, that big machine we call ‘civil aviation’ lofts millions of people into the air. The jets gleam, but the ride feels more like going steerage on an old tramp steamer than jetting through the friendly skies of the jet age.

All things considered, the system works and –- statistically — is very safe. But when air traffic controllers snooze on the job, or one plane clips another on the runway, or two pilots fly straight past their destination city, you start to worry that the whole system is nearing a breaking point.

This hour On Point: Air traffic controllers asleep at the switch and the story of air travel today.
- Jane Clayson


Christine Negroni, covers aviation for the New York Times and writes the blog Flying Lessons.
Bill Voss, CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation, an independent, nonprofit, international organization focused on air safety.

Aaron Gellman, professor of management and strategy at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and an expert in civil aviation and air traffic control issues.    He is a member of the FAA’s subcommittee on Air Traffic Management

This program aired on April 19, 2011.