March 25, 2011- The air traffic control supervisor who confessed being asleep while on the job at the Reagan National Airport in Washington earlier in the week has received a suspension and and flight and safety specialists are pushing a full inquiry into how such an action could ever take place.
The result of the mistake was that two commercial planes had no radio contact with the control tower and had no choice but to land on the runway without receieving the clearance to do so.
Federal Aviation Administration executives and the control supervisor were being interviewed at the airport by the National Transportation Safety Board yesterday. The controller who has been in place for over 20 years, had been working four night shifts in a row which run from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“What’s really shocking about this is that they had only one person in that tower,” lamented aviation attorney and safety specialist Mike Pangia. “It’s a human thing to be indisposed for one reason or another.”
“I think they need to look into the supervisory staff and those people who are responsible for manning the tower in such an important area such as Reagan Airport, which is a stone’s throw away from the Pentagon, from the Capitol Building and everything else in Washington, D.C. … To have just one controller on duty, even when the traffic is light, is absurd,” Pangia decried.
Federal Aviation Administration executive Randy Babbitt promised “to get to the bottom of this situation.”
“As a former airline pilot, I am personally outraged that this controller did not meet his responsibility to help land these two airplanes,” Babbitt declared.
The controller, who remains anyonymous, has been suspended indefinatley from operational responsibilities.