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Bob Hope adds air traffic controller

April 21, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com

Bob Hope Airport just got another air traffic controller for precisely the time when it sees a slowdown in takeoffs and landings.

On April 13, in the wake of a scandal in which several air traffic controllers at other airports fell asleep when they should have been guiding planes to safety, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered a second air controller to work the graveyard shift at all towers staffed by a single night controller. The rule affects 27 airports, including Bob Hope.

Air controller night shifts are from 10:15 p.m. to 6:15 a.m., according to the FAA, which operates control towers. At Bob Hope Airport, commercial airlines abide by a voluntary curfew from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

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Airport spokesman Victor Gill said that in 2010, Bob Hope Airport had 7,699 landings or takeoffs during the commercial curfew hours. Of those, 4,270 were cargo flights, and 2,603 involved private or corporate general aviation planes, neither of which are subject to the curfew. Another 826 flights involved commercial craft that landed or departed within the curfew hours because of flight delays.

That averages out to 21 flights per curfew period, or about 2.3 per hour.

At the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority meeting on April 18, Executive Director Dan Feger said he believes the FAA is beginning a sustained push to increase safety measures at all airports.

He said he is “not aware of any sleeping controllers” at Bob Hope, but said there is no disadvantage to the new policy.

“We’re encouraged by the actions of the administration,” he said.

Sherman takes stance against Iran

Rep. Brad Sherman (D- Sherman Oaks) has joined Republican colleague Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) in asking the State Department to end a program allowing U.S. companies to help repair airplanes owned by Iran.

The U.S. has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since the hostage crisis in 1979, and in recent years imposed sanctions because of Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Sherman said that 15 Boeing planes sold to Iran in the 1970s — when the shah was in power and the two nations were on better terms — contain parts that the FAA in 2010 determined are unsafe.

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