In the latest of what has been a very embarrassing succession of revelations for the FAA, the NTSB is now investigating why the first lady airplane was ordered to initiate a ‘go-around’ procedure as it was preparing to land at Andrews Air force Base at about 5:00 pm on Monday April 18th 2011. Preliminary accounts of the incident indicate that the Air national Guard Boeing 737 transport plane that was carrying both first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden (wife of vice president Joe Biden) may have come within three miles of a Air Force Boeing C-17 aircraft preceding it for landing at Andrews. The order issued by civilian air traffic controllers at Andrews Air Force base would have been issued in order to provide the safe distance separation of 5 miles mandated when following large aircraft that generate powerful wake turbulence. According to the NTSB, additional air traffic monitoring services on flights in the area was being provided by FAA controllers at a nearby TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control monitoring traffic within 35 to 60 miles of major airports) facility in Virginia.
The FAA has been at the center of a storm of controversy after recent revelations of air traffic controllers falling asleep, and a latest report of a controller operating a portable DVD while on duty. The airplane involved is likely to be a Air national Guard C-40 Clipper VIP transport plane derivative of the Boeing 737-700 passenger aircraft with blended winglets and using the call sign ‘Air Force 2’.