NTSB Investigating Pilot's Complaint About Reno Air Tower

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The National Transportation Safety Board is
investigating a pilot's complaint that he received bad information
about the wind from the control tower at Reno-Tahoe International
Airport before damaging his plane in a landing in September.

But Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation
Administration, said Thursday the FAA reviewed the incident and
found "no issues of concern."

The NTSB was expected to release its report next week on the
complaint filed by Leon Roberts of Noxon, Mont., according to the
Reno Gazette-Journal, which first reported the incident this week.

Roberts, 62, said he and a pilot of another single-engine plane
almost crashed in the unexpected wind gusts in excess of 20 mph on
Sept. 16, the same day 11 people were killed in a plane crash at
the National Championship Air Races about 10 miles north at
Reno-Stead Airport.

Roberts said he was landing his Cessna 180 to the south when he
was hit by a strong gust that caused it to spin when it reached the
ground, damaging the left wing.

"The actual winds were considerably higher than I was told,"
he told the newspaper.

Roberts said he had been told through an automated report put
out by the tower that the winds were at 250 degrees from the west
at about 15 mph. But after his near-crash, Roberts said he was told
that the winds actually were coming from about 280 degrees - a
sharper angle - at about 22 mph.

Roberts said in those conditions, planes should have been
directed to a different runway with an approach toward the north as
to avoid part of a tail wind.

"Something was wrong in that tower," he said. "This thing was
not right. I hope the NTSB reaches that conclusion."

Gregor said that was not the conclusion his agency reached after
an internal review shortly after the complaint was filed. He said
the FAA forwarded its review to the NTSB, which will make its own
independent findings.

"Any time there is an aircraft incident or accident, the FAA
reviews the performance of our air traffic control facilities,"
Gregor told The Associated Press. "In this instance, our review
did not identify any issues of concern."

"That was our own internal conclusion at both the local level
and at (FAA's) western headquarters in Seattle, which reviewed it
as well after the tower did its own investigation," he said.

Gregor, who is based in Los Angeles, said he "strongly caution
anybody against drawing any conclusions until the NTSB issues their
probable cause."

Brian Kulpin, spokesman for the airport, said he could not
comment until the NTSB report was made public.

Kulpin said the FAA is responsible for the air traffic control
tower. Gregor said the staffing of the air traffic control tower at
Reno-Stead Airport for the air races had no impact on Reno-Tahoe
International, which was routinely staffed based on the amount of
traffic that day.

"Any time we operate a satellite tower - be it for an air race
or a temporary tower for firefighting efforts - we do it through
overtime or moving schedules around," he said. "We don't reduce
staffing."


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