Gulfport controller blamed for second near collision

GULFPORT, MS (AP) - An air traffic controller who nearly caused a midair collision last year is again relieved of duty after putting two planes on what could have been a collision course.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Friday that a controller at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Mississippi put two planes on a converging course on Feb. 29. The planes were separated after another controller noticed the error.

An FAA employee with knowledge of the incident said it was caused by the same controller responsible for an airliner and a small plane coming within 300 feet of colliding last year. The employee wasn't authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified.

Safety expert Bill Voss said the incident raises questions about whether employee rights are trumping safety at FAA.

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