Fort Smith Tower NATCA Member Prevents Landing Accident
Friday, May 03, 2013

On Sunday, March 24, a single engine jet prop aircraft was approximately 10 feet from landing at Fort Smith, Ark., Regional Airport when veteran Fort Smith Tower (FSM) controller Ray Hart saw the aircraft’s landing gear was not down. Hart immediately sent the aircraft around and advised the pilot of the gear issue. The aircraft landed without incident.

“Safety is always the top priority for air traffic controllers,” says FSM and Razorback Approach Control NATCA Facility Representative John Bratcher. “Because of Ray's expert and professional abilities, a disastrous event was avoided.”

Bratcher continues, "Actions such as these show how a tower controller increases the margin of safety. If this happened at one of the 149 airports across the nation with a tower scheduled to close in June, such as nearby Fayetteville Airport, the end result could have been much different.”

During the week of April 15, Bratcher presented Hart with an award on behalf of NATCA FSM in recognition of his exemplary work. The award reads, “In recognition of his high-level professionalism and veteran experience as an air traffic controller at Fort Smith ATCT and Razorback Approach ... Ray’s swift action and quick reflexes averted a gear-up incident. It is actions like these that exemplify what it means to be a Professional Air Traffic Controller.”