MIAMI (CBS4) – The Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday afternoon that effectively immediately, an additional air traffic control will be required on the midnight shift at 27 control towers around the country that are currently only staffed with one controller overnight.
According to the FAA, the new order will impact both Fort Lauderdale International Airport and Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport in South Florida..
The latest move from the FAA came after an incident in Reno where a controller fell asleep while a medical flight carrying an ill patient was trying to land. The flight was able to land with the assistance of Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Control.
“I am totally outraged by these incidents. This is absolutely unacceptable,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The American public trusts us to run a safe system. Safety is our number one priority and I am committed to working 24/7 until these problems are corrected.”
FAA Administrator Randy Babbit was in Miami and talked to CBS4 about the problems.
“In some cases we have two controllers at a facility,” Babbit said. “One is up in the tower, the other is down in the radar room. We have the technology today that we can bring that person upstairs so they work together side-by-side so neither one of them is alone.”
He spoke to CBS4 before he learned of the latest incident in Reno that prompted Wednesday’s actions. He released a statement later Wednesday addressing the issue.
“Air traffic controllers are responsible for making sure aircraft safely reach their destinations. We absolutely cannot and will not tolerate sleeping on the job. This type of unprofessional behavior does not meet our high safety standards,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.
The FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association will be launching a nationwide call to action next week that seeks to “reinforce the need for all air traffic personnel to adhere to the highest professional standards.”