Congress Tells FAA to Address Sleeping Air Traffic Controllers After Latest Incident

April 14, 2011


The Federal Aviation Administration is getting an earful from U.S. officials and lawmakers, after reports Wednesday of another incident involving a sleeping air traffic controller — the fifth such case this year, this time occurring during an emergency plane landing.

In response to the lapses, the FAA announced it was immediately putting a second controller on the midnight shift at 26 airports and a radar facility around the country that currently have only one overnight person.

“I am totally outraged by these incidents. This is absolutely unacceptable,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “The American public trusts us to run a safe system. Safety is our No. 1 priority and I am committed to working 24/7 until these problems are corrected.”

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement, “Air traffic controllers are responsible for making sure aircraft safely reach their destinations. We absolutely cannot and will not tolerate sleeping on the job,”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor that he shares LaHood’s and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt’s outrage.

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