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In the Eye of the Storm: Aeronautics Committee Tours New York Flight Control Center

February 2010

The Aeronautics Committee, like any other, usually meets in the cozy confines of the House of the Association.  In December, however, some of its members ventured into the more turbulent world of air traffic control, visiting the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility in Westbury, New York. There they witnessed traffic controllers working under the pressure of severe weather over New York airspace.

In early December, the group was given a private tour of TRACON, a facility operated by the Federal Aviation Administration that coordinates arriving, departing, and en-route air traffic for JFK Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty Airport, and many other smaller airports in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. 

While observing, the committee witnessed a large storm move in over the New York area, bringing in high winds and shutting down a runway at JFK.  The visiting members were able to see TRACON’s response, quickly rerouting flights and working to avoid delays.  “It didn’t seem like an emergency situation at all, of course,” said Jeremy Hager, the Committee Chair.  “It’s what they do.”

The Aeronautics Committee is composed not only of lawyers working in aeronautics law, but also of several lawyers who are licensed pilots.  For those pilots, the visit was an opportunity to see the men and women they have relied upon while flying in New York airspace.

Hager, a private practitioner, is often hired by insurance companies to represent the insured in the aftermath of an airline accident.  “As an attorney in the practice area, it was interesting to go into the field and witness it firsthand.  It’s one thing to see a pilot give a deposition about what happened in the cockpit, but it’s another to see what goes on between the pilot and air traffic control.”

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