For Immediate Release

Release No. APA 59-01
August 23, 2001
Contact: John Clabes or Roland Herwig
Phone: (405) 954-7500

TULSA, Oklahoma — U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and Federal Aviation Administrator Jane F. Garvey today honored Tulsa International Airport air traffic controllers for an unprecedented achievement – operating for eight years without a mistake.

"These 46 men and women have done something very few people in any profession can claim. They haven't made an on-the-job mistake in eight years," Secretary Mineta said in remarks at the afternoon awards ceremony held at the airport here. "This is amazing. But what it really means is that pilots and passengers flying into and out of Tulsa are able to do so in absolute confidence that these controllers know what to do and when to do it."

Administrator Garvey praised the group's accomplishment. "This is what we strive for in the air traffic business; perfection every day. It's difficult, but the Tulsa controllers have shown us that it's not impossible. This is a reflection on their training, their skills, their work ethic and their professionalism," she said. "This is a first, a standard against which to measure everyone else, every facility in the system. If it can be done in Tulsa, it can be done in other places, as well."

Tulsa International Airport handles about 200,000 take-offs and landings a year, and tower controllers haven't made an "operational error" – allowing two airplanes to come too close together – since 1993, for a total of 4 million error-free operations.

Forty-six controllers operate the Tulsa tower 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Staff at the tower includes 40 controllers, six operational supervisors, three staff assistants, three managers and two clerical aides. Another 35 technicians and managers in the Airway Facilities division maintain essential air traffic equipment such as radios and radars.