FAA suspends JFK's errant air traffic controllers

JetBlueAuthroities have suspended an air traffic controller and a supervisor at JFK after the controller allowed his son to direct several pilots from the control tower.

“This lapse in judgment not only violated FAA’s own policies, but common-sense standards for professional conduct. These kinds of distractions are totally unacceptable,” FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement. 

The air traffic controller allowed his son to read some routine instructions to pilots, then brought another child to work the next day.

Pilots seemed amused and pleased. “I wish I could bring my kid to work,” one of them said.

All this was brought to light when a recording of the radio calls was posted on the internet, then reported by a Boston television station. Such transmissions are routinely streamed live on the internet. One user of the popular site LiveATC.net, which is devoted to air controller talk, posted the recording not long after it occurred on February 16th, when New York schoolchildren were on winter break.

According to the recording, the boy made five transmissions to pilots readying for departure.

Control towers are generally highly secure areas, though the agency sometimes gives employees permission to bring their children for a tour.

Dave Pascoe, founder of LiveATC and a pilot and radio enthusiast, said he was sickened at the thought that the controller could be disciplined.

“I believe that this is being blown out of proportion,” he said. “This is just a completely controlled situation. A child was being told exactly what to say.”

He added: “I think it’s just fantastic that this guy cared enough to take his kid to work. How many parents take their kids to work these days?”

Is this a case of the FAA coming down hard to avoid a media frenzy? What do you readers think?

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