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American Airlines Letter Clears Controller of Legal Cloud - (9/9/2000)

WASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, while welcoming an American Airlines explanation of why it named and then cleared a Little Rock, Ark., air traffic controller in litigation stemming from a June 1, 1999 crash, expressed continuing concern about the issue.

American Airlines Executive Vice President for Operations Gerard J. Arpey, in a written clarification to the Federal Aviation Administration, said, “It was never American’s intent to hold Mr. (Kenneth) Kaylor personally liable at trial in any of the Flight 1420 cases. In state court, however, we were required to name the individual controller as a party so that the United States government would substitute itself for Mr. Kaylor.”

As expected, the letter goes on to say, both state and federal courts in Arkansas and Texas have dismissed the controller as a party.

New NATCA President John Carr, pleased with American’s explanation, said, “NATCA appreciates the vagaries of state legal systems, and is especially pleased that American values controllers as ‘essential in solving our national airspace issues,’ as Mr. Arpey wrote to the FAA. We, too believe cooperative relationships among airlines, pilots and others are pivotal as we face the challenges of maintaining a safe ATC system.”
However, while welcoming the letter, Carr remained disturbed and said American should go a step further. “The controller on duty had his work and his integrity smeared as a result of these legal tactics,” Carr said. “We believe American owes Kenneth Kaylor, specifically, and air traffic controllers in general a letter of apology for this unfortunate incident.

“As air traffic controllers, we have our hands full ensuring the safety of the flying public. Legal tactics by profit-driven corporations do nothing to enhance that mission.”

Arpey’s Sept. 1 letter was addressed to FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey. He invited her to share its contents with NATCA.

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