As most travelers know by now, the FAA is investigating an incident that took place a few weeks’ ago at New York’s Kennedy Airport. On the evening of February 16th, in the middle of the President’s Day week-long school holiday, an air traffic controller brought his young son to visit in the Air Traffic Control Tower and allowed the boy to talk with pilots and guide them off and back down to the runways.
According to news sources about the ongoing FAA investigation of the incident, the boy cleared a Jet Blue flight for takeoff and spoke with other pilots on the tower’s frequency, making at least five transmissions.
On the audiotape, you can hear a man’s voice say to the pilots, “This is what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school.” One of the pilots is heard to answer, “Wish I could bring my kid to work…”
Listen to the recording yourself: Audio file provided by 1010WINS.com, New York’s news radio station.
In more news, The Washington Post has confirmed with the FAA that on the following day, February 17th, another child was brought to the same Air Traffic Control Tower by the same employee, but little else is known about this event.
In response to the incident, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement that, “These kinds of distractions are totally unacceptable. This lapse in judgment not only violated FAA’s own policies, but common-sense standards for professional conduct.” Both the air traffic controller and his supervisor have been placed on administrative leave, and the FAA has suspended unofficial visits to all air traffic control areas. In the past, visits by employee families were allowed with the permission of the respective control tower’s supervisor.
According to the trade paper Travel Weekly, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association also criticized the controller and supervisor.
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