Strong praise from the GUARDIAN to Boise City officials and staff for their timely response to our record requests regarding the November 19 incident at the Boise airport tower when controllers failed to answer radio calls.
In response to BOISEGUARDIAN requests for information regarding the “joint” investigation which led police to suspect marijuana was either being smoked at the FAA facility or that air traffic controllers were under the influence, we received dozens of pages of e-mails and reports.
Here are some key points:
–Both the FAA and Boise officials (from the city council on down) were informed about the release of information.
–To their credit, Boise officials required the FAA to make formal requests for the various reports and documents.
–One of the ATC controllers who was involved in the incident filed a records request on his own behalf to learn what Boise police and airport officials were reporting.
–A meeting scheduled Dec. 2 between an FAA special agent and Boise airport officials was cancelled. The investigator from Renton, Wa. wrote to Boise’s director of operations, “Thanks to the information you provided, the FAA has collected enough information to move forward with taking action in this instance.”
–Boise officials made it clear to FAA that drug testing was available in Boise 24/7.
–When aircraft could not contact the tower, a Boise operations worker eventually cleared them to land by radio from his pick up truck.
–Police, fire, and EMS war dispatched at the request of the Boise ops worker who was checking runway lights. He was unable to reach the tower on any of the frequencies used for air or ground operations. A red phone known as the “crash phone was used,” and no one responded, prompting the dispatch of coppers and firefighters.
–The ops worker said the ATC operator on duty was confused and repeated aircraft tail numbers in error while he was in the tower with the police.
–To a man, every responder reported smelling the aroma of marijuana at the tower facility. No one was able to determine if it was in their clothing, in the air, or elsewhere.
–One e-mail exchange between city workers described the incident as “not a way to build bridges” (between the city and FAA).
The GUARDIAN has tried in vain to get someone–anyone–from the FAA to assure us the workers were drug tested in a timely manner and passed–despite all indications to the contrary from police and airport witnesses.
Finally, it would be nice to know if the guys are still working in the tower controlling aircraft coming in and going out of the Boise airport.
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