Controller arrest sparks protest

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The arrest of a controller in South Africa for his part in a 19 April 2002 accident has been condemned by the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA) as unjust, contrary to international agreements, and as having a counter-productive effect on safety. The accident took place at Wonderboom airfield when a Cessna 177 carrying three people took off on the wrong runway, putting it on a potential collision course with an aircraft on final approach. The pilot carried out a high-bank left turn at low level and hit a wall, killing all on board. The accident report says the probable causes were the pilot’s mistake in going to the wrong runway, the controller’s failure to observe that he had, and the pilot’s decision to manoeuvre at low level close to stalling speed.