Ky. air controller says he warned senators

Sept. 13, 2006 at 9:22 PM
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LEXINGTON, Ky., Sept. 13 (UPI) -- A Kentucky air controller says he told U.S. lawmakers his concerns about Blue Grass Airport's staffing nearly five months before Comair Flight 5191 crashed.

Faron Collins, vice president in Lexington of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, wrote in an April 4 letter that the airport's control tower had two people working the midnight shift "only when convenient to management," the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

The Aug. 27 crash, which killed 49 of 50 people on board, has focused attention on controller staffing, the newspaper said. Only one was in the tower at the time of the crash.

Collins said he urged Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., to support legislation that would prevent work rules from being forced on the controllers.

Mike Reynard, a spokesman for Bunning, said the senator's office considered the letter "a request to back a specific piece of legislation, not a request to investigate the staffing issue." McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said McConnell's office could not find the letter, the newspaper said.

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