Air traffic controllers played a key role in the Miracle on the Hudson.
On January 15, 2009, a pack of geese flew into the engines of Flight 1549. Patrick Harten served as a air traffic controller at NY TRACON, which manages planes flying to, from, and over New York. Harten says that he had never worked an aircraft with zero thrust capabilities and understood how grave the situation was.
He tried to coordinate emergency landings on runways at both New York’s LaGuardia and New Jersey’s Teterboro airports, but the planes captain Chesley Sullenberger was certain he didn’t have time to reach the airports and decided to make a water landing in the Hudson River.
Sullenberger successfully make the emergency landing and all of the 155 passengers and crew members survived the landing. The pilot commended his air traffic controller for his role in the landing.
Right now, more than 24,000 employees from the Federal Aviation Administration are working without pay during the partial government shutdown, since they’re considered vital for public safety. Roughly 14,000 of those employees are air traffic controllers.
The NATCA filed a lawsuit against the federal government on January 11, claiming it is violating their constitutional rights and a federal wage law. The current shutdown began on December 22 and is now the longest funding gap in the U.S. government history.