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article imageHead of U.S. air traffic control resigns over sleeping employees

By Lynn Herrmann     Apr 14, 2011 in Travel
Washington - After a recent series of events involving sleeping air traffic controllers, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Air Traffic Organization (ATO) submitted his resignation on Thursday morning, accepted by the FAA’s administrator.
FAA administrator Randy Babbitt has accepted the resignation of its ATO chief, Hank Krakowski, after a recent rash of “examples of unprofessional conduct” by several air traffic controllers who were sleeping on the job.
In a news release, Babbit said the bad behavior must quickly end, noting
Over the last few weeks we have seen examples of unprofessional conduct on the part of a few individuals that have rightly caused the traveling public to question our ability to ensure their safety.  This conduct must stop immediately.
On Wednesday, Babbitt announced an additional air traffic controller will be employed on the midnight shift at 27 control towers across the US, previously staffed with just one controller on that shift.
The announcement came after a controller at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport fell asleep on Wednesday when a medical flight was attempting to land. In an FAA news release, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said: “I am totally outraged by these incidents. This is absolutely unacceptable.”
The Reno-Tahoe incident comes after two jets last month were forced to land around midnight at Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport when a tower controller failed to respond to radio contact by the planes. Following an investigation, it was determined he had fallen asleep during his shift.
Earlier this week, the FAA said an air traffic controller at Boeing Field in Seattle fell asleep during his morning shift. According to the Bellingham Herald, the same controller fell asleep twice during an evening shift in January.
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