The FAA may have enacted changes intended to keep air traffic controllers from falling asleep on the job, but there is still the problem of those conscious controllers who aren’t doing the job they were hired to do — like the one in Ohio who was just exiled from the control tower for watching a movie instead of the radar screen.
From the FAA statement:
During the early morning hours of April 17, 2011, an air traffic controller at the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center was watching a movie on a portable electronic device while working a radar position. For a little more than three minutes, the controller’s microphone was inadvertently activated, transmitting the soundtrack of the movie over the radio frequency for that airspace. The problem was brought to air traffic control’s attention by the pilot of a military aircraft using an alternate frequency. The controller and the front line manager have been suspended from operational duties pending an investigation. FAA policy prohibits the use of portable DVD players and other devices from being used on the floor of the radar room.
This is not happy news for the FAA, which has had to deal with a slew of negative headlines in recent weeks about air traffic controllers being found snoozing on the job.
Over the weekend, the agency issued new rules mandating a minimum of nine hours between shifts for controllers.