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After 8:41 a.m. September 11, 2001: Air Traffic Control, Unusually, Does Not Contact United Airlines about Communications with Flight 175

Senior United Airlines personnel are, unusually, not informed about air traffic control communications with Flight 175. At 8:41 a.m., the pilots of Flight 175 reported to air traffic controllers that they heard “a suspicious transmission” from another aircraft during their departure out of Boston (see 8:41 a.m.-8:42 a.m. September 11, 2001). Yet the details of this communication with Flight 175 are not passed on to personnel at the United Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) center, just outside Chicago. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 20]
Manager Receives 'No Relevant Information about the Hijackings' - Rich Miles, the manager on duty at the SOC, will later tell the 9/11 Commission that “[w]hile his experience and expectation was that [FAA air traffic control] would communicate to him and to the SOC about ‘strange’ or unusual communications from the cockpit… he could not recall any such communications on 9/11.” He will say that although, “typically, he would receive relevant information from the [air traffic control] system,” he receives “no relevant information about the hijackings” on this day. [9/11 Commission, 11/21/2003 pdf file]
Other Airline Personnel Unaware of Flight 175 Communications - None of the other senior United Airlines officials on duty at the SOC are told about the 8:41 a.m. report made by the pilots of Flight 175. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 20] These officials will tell the 9/11 Commission that “the dispatchers and managers at the SOC” are in fact “not aware of any communications” between FAA controllers and Flight 175 this morning. [9/11 Commission, 11/20/2003 pdf file] The 9/11 Commission will describe, “SOC personnel at United that we talked to had no idea of the extent of interaction of the [Flight 175] crew with the saga of [Flight 11].” The Commission will add, “We walked down a list of indicators,” but state, “Until we mentioned them, no one we talked to [at United Airlines] was aware of those occurrences.” [9/11 Commission, 11/17/2003 pdf file]
Controllers Communicate with Pilots, Not Dispatchers - The United Airlines officials will say, however, that, “first and foremost,” FAA controllers “communicated directly with airline pilots, not the dispatchers” at the airline. [9/11 Commission, 11/20/2003 pdf file] Ed Ballinger, the United Airlines dispatcher responsible for Flight 175, will comment that “he did not feel that [air traffic control] was under any obligation to share such information [as the details of the 8:41 a.m. communication] with him, because it didn’t apparently affect the safety of any of his flights.” [9/11 Commission, 4/14/2003 pdf file]
Airline Not Advised to Notify Other Planes about Hijackings - The United Airlines officials who talk with the 9/11 Commission will also recall that “they never received any communication… from the FAA or the air traffic control system advising United to contact its aircraft about the hijackings.” The 9/11 Commission will not offer any explanation for the lack of communication between air traffic control and United Airlines. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 20]

Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, United Airlines, Rich Miles, Ed Ballinger

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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