15 Aug 2009

Controllers suspended over crash involving NZ pilot

4:11 pm on 15 August 2009

American authorities have begun disciplinary proceedings against two air traffic controllers in connection with a fatal mid-air collision involving a New Zealand helicopter pilot near New York.

Nine people were killed when the helicopter, flown by Jeremy Clarke, 32, and a small plane plunged into the Hudson River in New Jersey following the collision last weekend.

The Federal Aviation Administration has now taken action, CNN reports.

An FAA statement says the controller handling the small plane involved in the accident was apparently having an inappropriate telephone conversation when the plane collided with the sightseeing helicopter.

In addition, the controller's supervisor was not in the building as required.

The agency says it has no reason at this point to believe these actions contributed to the accident, but the conduct is unacceptable.

Both controllers have been placed on administrative leave.