Here’s a story crying out for the sound of a sad trombone. The Federal Aviation Administration yesterday suspended an air traffic controller at JFK Airport and his supervisor for allowing two children visiting the airport’s tower last month to direct at least five planes.
The FAA has suspended all unofficial visits to towers and radar rooms while the incident is being investigated, and Administrator Randy Babbitt stressed that “this lapse in judgment not only violated FAA’s own policies, but common sense standards … [and]does not reflect the true caliber of our workforce.”
And in case anyone thought otherwise, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association stressed that they “do not condone this type of behavior in any way.”
According to the Washington Post:
Audio recordings first obtained by the Web site LiveATC.net, which tracks air traffic control communications, revealed that the child communicated with at least five flights while he was with his father in the air traffic control tower at JFK.
“JetBlue 171, contact departure,” the unidentified child told one flight.
“Over to departure, JetBlue 171, awesome job,” a pilot said in response. Then a man’s voice is heard: “That’s what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school.”
In another instance, the boy ended communication with a Mexican pilot by signing off, “Adios,” against agency protocol.
The Post later said that FAA confirmed a second kid also talked to flights from the JFK tower that same day.