Sleepy Air Traffic Controller Suspended

A Chicago flight landed in DC without clearance because of an allegedly sleeping supervisor

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    NEWSLETTERS

    "It's a big deal," Sen. Mark Kirk said. "This employee should be made an example of." (Published Thursday, Mar 24, 2011)

    A control tower supervisor has been suspended after allegedly falling asleep on Wednesday instead of aiding two planes that landed at Washington’s Reagan airport.

    A flight from Chicago was one of two planes that landed without control tower clearance because the air traffic supervisor was reportedly asleep, safety and aviation officials said.

    No One Home at Air Traffic Control

    [CHI] No One Home at Air Traffic Control
    Two flights, including one from Chicago to Washington, D.C., are greeted by silence when trying to contact the tower at Reagan International Airport. (Published Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011)

    Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt said Thursday in a statement that the controller has been suspended from his operational duties.

    Babbitt said he was “personally outraged” that the supervisor — the lone controller on duty in the airport tower at the time — failed to meet his duties.

    Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk told NBC Chicago the person responsible should be fired.

    "To have it that a controller literally asleep at the switch is a big deal," Kirk said. "This employee should be made an example of."

    Responding to the incident, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement that he has directed FAA to put two air traffic controllers on the midnight shift at Reagan National.

    “It is not acceptable to have just one controller in the tower managing air traffic in this critical air space,” LaHood said.