WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Air Traffic Controller Fell Asleep While On Duty

Play associated audio
The secretary of Transportation is directing Reagan airport to assign two air traffic controllers to midnight shifts, rather than one.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdstrachan/4236369679
The secretary of Transportation is directing Reagan airport to assign two air traffic controllers to midnight shifts, rather than one.

Federal safety officials are reviewing air traffic control staffing at airports around the country after an incident at Reagan National this week where two planes had to land without control tower clearance.

It happened around midnight Wednesday and it's believed the air traffic supervisor on duty was asleep at the time.

The planes, one carrying about 90 passengers, the other about 60, were set to land at Reagan National but neither pilot was able to make contact with the air traffic control tower. That's when they called the regional control center known as, "Potomac Traecon" to get clearance to land.

"Area 1012 called a couple times on the land line and I called on the commercial line and there's no answer," the pilot said.

Controllers at the regional facility also repeatedly called the airport tower but got no answer.

"The tower is apparently unmanned. We called on the phone but nobody is answering so the aircraft went in to that uncontrolled airport," a controller said.

Both planes did contact a regional facility and were able to land safely.

Transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, says he's directing the Federal Aviation Administration to put two air traffic controllers on the midnight shift at Reagan National instead of one. The FAA says it's looking into staffing issues and whether existing procedures were followed appropriately.

CORRECTION: This post previously stated that the incident happened "around midnight Tuesday." It occurred around midnight on Wednesday.

**Video from The Washington Post with audio of one pilot speaking with a controller from LiveATC.net:**
NPR

MTV's Rewinding The '90s With A New Channel

The '90s are back! Pokémon has taken over the world again. A Clinton is running for president. And now, MTV is reviving '90s favorites like Beavis and Butt-head on a new channel, MTV Classic.
NPR

Cookie Dough Blues: How E. Coli Is Sneaking Into Our Forbidden Snack

Most people know not to eat raw cookie dough. But now it's serious: 46 people have now been sickened with E. coli-tainted flour. Here's how contamination might be occurring.
WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour – LIVE from Slim's Diner!

This special edition of the Politics Hour is coming to you live from Slim's Diner from Petworth in Northwest D.C.

NPR

Writing Data Onto Single Atoms, Scientists Store The Longest Text Yet

With atomic memory technology, little patterns of atoms can be arranged to represent English characters, fitting the content of more than a billion books onto the surface of a stamp.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.