Orange County's John Wayne Airport Tower Sets Safety Record

Orange County Airport Tower Marks Safety Milestone. FAA says controllers at John Wayne directed 1 million takeoffs and landings without error.

Los Angeles Times, CA. November 3, 2003 For the first time in its history, the control tower at John Wayne Airport has directed a million takeoffs and landings without making a mistake.

“It’s a pretty big accomplishment,” said Donn Walker, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, which recently reported the milestone. “It’s definitely good news [because] it doesn’t happen that often.”

Until 2001, Walker said, the Orange County airport ? the nation’s 25th busiest ? averaged two operational errors annually. Since January 2001, however, air traffic controllers at John Wayne haven’t made any errors.

Operational errors are defined as mistakes by air traffic controllers, such as in positioning of aircraft.

“We’re very happy with the quality of their work,” said Justin McCusker, an airport spokesman. Walker attributed the control tower’s improved performance to an increased emphasis by his agency on safety.

“There’s been a concerted effort to make our aviation system safer,” Walker said, “[and] the controllers and management at John Wayne have been very focused” on that goal. They accomplished it, he said, essentially by “just being more aware of their environment and job. It means paying more attention, things like that.”

Walker said it happens “a few times a year” that airports around the country are recognized for handling a million flights without any incidents caused by controllers.

Los Angeles International Airport reported just over a month ago that its air traffic controllers had for the first time reached the goal.