For Immediate Release

Release No. AWP5-1203
October 24, 2003
Contact: Donn Walker
Phone: (310) 725-3580

Air traffic controllers at John Wayne Airport have handled more than 1 million takeoffs and landings since January 2001 without making an error.

"To go from averaging two operational errors a year to having none in almost three years is a significant achievement," said Charles Ullmann, air traffic manager at the airport. "Hitting this milestone is a reflection of the skill, professionalism, and dedication of our controllers here at John Wayne. Everyone at the FAA is extremely proud of them."

Cynthia Heavrin, president of the controllers' union's local chapter, said controllers at John Wayne provide the highest level of service each day to every aircraft they handle. "To reach this milestone is validation of all their hard work and talent," she said.

FAA records show that before 2001, an average of two operational errors occurred each year at John Wayne Airport, the nation’s 25th busiest.

The airport's overall safety record has improved steadily, as well. In addition to the decline in operational errors, runway incursions at John Wayne are also down significantly in recent years. (Runway incursions are incidents in which planes or vehicles intrude into safety zones around runways.) John Wayne had three incursions in fiscal 2003, compared with 12 in fiscal 2001 – a drop of 75%. All incursions since 2001 have been in the least-serious categories.

Ullmann credits this overall improvement in safety at John Wayne to several factors, including a collaborative and proactive effort between FAA managers and controllers, the airport staff, and the local pilot community.

"In addition to the FAA's efforts to eliminate errors and runway incursions, the entire aviation community at John Wayne has worked hard to improve the safety of the flying public," said Ulllmann. "This milestone, and safety at John Wayne in general, is truly a team effort and success story."