Air traffic controllers say a September decision by FAA officials to ban weather radios, commercial radios and cell phones from its ATC facilities placed air traffic controllers in danger in the control tower cab and radar room at Daytona Beach International Airport when a Christmas day tornado roared within 150 yards of the facility before carving a destructive path through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Just a week before the tornado, FAA officials briefed Daytona Beach controllers on a security order detailing what to do during hazardous weather conditions,officials with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association say. One of the requirements listed was “Keep a watch on the skies and watch/listen to local weather.” The order also states that the responsibility to evacuate the tower rests with the manager/supervisor on duty. Union officials claim the FAA disobeyed its own orders for monitoring local weather conditions by banning all methods by which to do so.
“This is a situation that defies all measure of common sense and responsibility,” said NATCA Executive Vice President Paul Rinaldi. “We call upon the FAA to immediately put back all radios and life-saving communications equipment.”