The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) took the highly unusual step Monday of breaking National Trasnportation Safety Board (NTSB) protocol and speaking out publicly to refute key portions of the NTSB’s Hudson River mid-air crash investigation sequence of events (released last Friday). The NTSB’s statement gave the mistaken impression that the Teterboro controller who initially handled the Piper aircraft on Aug. 8 could have warned him about the helicopter that he eventually collided with, killing nine people.

We spoke out only after our private attempts to correct the record with NTSB officials were unsuccessful. Our press efforts Monday, while in violation of NTSB prohibitions against public statements from any parties participating in the investigation, were absolutely necessary in our view to reinforce our belief that there is nothing our Teterboro controller could have done to prevent this horrible tragedy from happening.

We respect the NTSB and we value our participation in NTSB investigations. But in this case, the NTSB completely ignored our initial input, painted a misleading view of the job description of a Teterboro controller and helped fuel a public feeding frenzy that unfairly blamed our particular Teterboro controller for not acting to stop the sequence of events that led to the crash.

It’s very important that the NTSB late Monday heard our public argument, clarified the disputed portions of the pre-crash sequence of events and largely vindicated the Teterboro controller. The fact that our actions which led to the NTSB’s clarified statement have now gotten us kicked off the investigation is unfortunate, but we will always speak out to correct the record in a matter as gravely serious as this one.