Inside these posts: Transportation Department

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Chicago plane finds snoozing tower in D.C.

The air traffic tower at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington. (Karen Bleier/Getty)

Federal air-safety officials are looking into why the lone air-traffic controller on duty at Washington’s Reagan National Airport early Wednesday repeatedly failed to respond to pilots of two approaching aircraft, forcing both jetliners to land without clearance.

Pilots of an American Airlines jet on final approach tried in vain to contact the tower. A few minutes later, a United Airlines jet, en route from Chicago, experienced the same problem, according to federal air-safety officials. Get the full story »

Delta fined $2M for violating disability rules

The U.S. Department of Transportation fined Delta Air Lines Inc. $2 million for violating federal rules on passengers with disabilities, the agency said Thursday.

The fine is the largest imposed against an airline in a case not related to safety. Get the full story »

U.S. prepares to ban e-cigarettes from planes

U.S. transportation regulators this spring plan to ban smokeless electronic cigarettes on airplanes, the Associated Press reported Friday, citing a letter from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Get the full story »

Reports of mistakes by air controllers nearly double

Inside the air-traffic control tower at LaGuardia Airport. (EPA/Andrew Gombert)

In a time of unparalleled aviation safety in the United States, reports of mistakes by air traffic controllers have nearly doubled — a seeming contradiction that has safety experts puzzled.

The latest incident — the near midair collision of an American Airlines jet with 259 people aboard and two Air Force transport planes southeast of New York City, has raised eyebrows in Congress and led to questions about a nonpunitive culture of error reporting in air-traffic control facilities. Get the full story »

Tarmac delay rules to extend to foreign airlines

Federal officials are poised to broaden new tarmac delay rules to include overseas carriers, closing a loophole that was exposed during the Boxing Day blizzard that shuttered New York City’s airports.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday it expects to issue the latest passenger protections in April and will likely build on a controversial 2010 rule that set fines of $27,500 for every passenger on board planes operated by domestic carriers that idle at an airport for more than 180 minutes. Get the full story »

U.S. set to release results of Toyota probe

The government on Tuesday plans to release the findings of its investigation into reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles.

The Transportation Department and NASA have been studying the safety issues that led Toyota to recall more than 11 million vehicles since the fall of 2009. Get the full story »

JetBlue to pay $600,000 for violations

JetBlue has been ordered to pay $600,000 for what the government said were violations of rules for handling disabled passengers and disclosing flight information to passengers. Get the full story »

EPA rates Chevy Volt at 93 mpg

General Motors Co. said Wednesday that its Chevy Volt will carry an overall fuel economy rating of 60 miles per gallon, topping the Toyota Prius, the long-time fuel economy leader.

GM has begun to build the long-awaited Volt at a Detroit-area factory, with initial sales expected for December. Get the full story »

U.S. sets first mpg, emission limits for heavy trucks

The Obama administration on Monday proposed the first fuel efficiency and emissions standards for big tractor trailors and other commercial trucks that run mainly on diesel fuel.

The joint Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency initiative covers a range of vehicles from delivery vans to long-haul rigs and is expected to cut nearly 250 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the lifespans of vehicles produced within the program’s first five years. Get the full story »

U.S., Asia air alliances expected to win OK

U.S. regulators say they are likely to approve antitrust immunity for two major airline alliances carrying travelers to Asia.

The tentative approval from the Transportation Department on Wednesday would let American Airlines and Japan Airlines coordinate routes and schedules and share revenue on flights across the Pacific. A similar arrangement between United Continental Holdings Inc. and All Nippon Airways also won tentative approval. Get the full story »

Only 2 cars get 5 stars in tougher crash tests

Three new models crucial to U.S. automakers received four-star ratings in U.S. government crash-safety tests that were toughened in response to concerns voiced by safety and consumer groups.

But the latest version of the Toyota Camry, the best-selling car in North America, earned an average three stars and was outperformed by virtually every other vehicle in a first analysis of fifty-five 2011 models conducted by the Transportation Department. Get the full story »

Ban on texting by haz-mat haulers proposed

Targeting distractions behind the wheel, the Obama administration proposed Tuesday to bar truck drivers from sending text messages while hauling hazardous materials.

The requirements would complement separate rules being finalized by the Transportation Department that prohibit commercial bus and truck drivers from sending text messages on the job and restrict train operators from using cell phones and mobile devices on duty. Get the full story »

U.S. pitches changes to fuel-economy labels

The fuel-economy sticker on new cars will change under plans announced Monday.

Will your new car get an A in fuel efficiency? A government proposal may add letter grades to showroom window stickers on new cars and trucks to reflect a vehicle’s overall fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency said Monday they were considering two options to upgrade the energy and environmental information that will adorn labels on new vehicles in car dealership showrooms, beginning with the 2012 model year. Get the full story »

Justice Department OKs United-Continental merger

Passengers at the United and Continental kiosks at O'Hare International Airport, May 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Justice Department approved the proposed merger of United and Continental airlines Friday, closing an unexpectedly speedy four-month investigation that paves the way for the mega-deal to close by Oct. 1.

To win the blessing of federal antitrust regulators, United and Continental agreed to lease slots for 18 round-trip flights to Southwest Airlines at Newark Liberty International Airport, beginning in March 2011.

Justice officials said the slot transfer was struck in “response to the department’s principal concerns” regarding the merger, which critics have warned will speed consolidation and eventually leave the three largest U.S. carriers with a lion’s share of the market. Get the full story »

U.S. probe limits Toyota woes to gas pedals

A government investigation into runaway Toyotas has found no new safety defects beyond problems with accelerator pedals that explain reports of sudden acceleration in the vehicles, according to preliminary findings released Tuesday.

Safety experts have said vehicle electronic systems could be to blame for the problems that have led to Toyota’s massive recalls but the review by the government, while still at an early stage, has not found any evidence of those problems. Get the full story »