Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Crackdown on sleeping controllers leads FAA to beef up staff at two L.A. airports

Krys T. Bart, President, CEO for the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, talks to the media Wednesday

Two Los Angeles area airports must add air traffic controllers during midnight shifts as part of a national effort to increase staffing after several controllers across the country fell asleep while working alone, federal regulators announced Wednesday.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said controllers would be added at 27 airports nationally, including Bob Hope in Burbank and LA/Ontario International in Ontario. San Diego International and Sacramento International also will get additional nighttime staffing.

According to the FAA, the airports have had only one air traffic controller on duty during midnight shifts.

"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 No. 1 priority, and I am committed to working 24/7 until these problems are corrected."

The latest incident occurred Wednesday morning at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada when a controller fell asleep while a medical flight carrying an ill person was trying to land.

FAA officials said the controller, who was out of communication for about 16 minutes, was suspended pending the outcome of an investigation. The aircraft managed to land safely. Additional controllers will also be added at that airport.

Including the Reno incident, at least five controllers have been suspended for falling asleep while on duty: in Seattle; Lubbock, Texas; and Washington, where a lone controller at Reagan National Airport fell asleep last month and could not assist two airliners coming in for landings.


With drought over, water restrictions get second look at some local utilities

Dodgers might end half-off beer promotion amid security concerns, criticism

NASA decision to send space shuttle to L.A. is 'shameful,' 'tawdry politics,' critics say

-- Dan Weikel

Photo: Krys T. Bart, CEO of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, meets with the media to discuss an incident Tuesday in which an air traffic controller at the Nevada airport fell asleep while a medical aircraft was attempting to land. The controller was suspended. Credit: Tim Dunn / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (10)

fixing the problem by putting MORE union sleepy heads in the tower????
what a BAD fix for this problem....

"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 No. 1 priority, and I am committed to working 24/7 until these problems are corrected."

So your not going to get any sleep?


How long of a shift were they working?

What finally did wake them up?

@john: LOL.

Why have any controllers working the midnight shift if it's that quiet.

Most of the airports in the US do not have a control tower and pilots use them safely all the time. Not just general aviation but scheduled airlines operate out of some (not many) of them, such as Lake Havesu.

The purpose of the control tower is coordinate arrivals and departures of multiple planes.

If landed at Burbank late at night and nobody else was around.

What is needed here is to fire all these people and replace them with people who really want a job.

Ok, if the goal, Ray, is safety, then please explain how safety was compromised when there is a clear procedure to follow when an airport no longer has an active tower because a) its closed, b) the controller is going to the bathroom or c) is asleep. THERE IS NO ADDED RISK.

Did you even take the time to check the flights at DCA between midnight and 6am? There is ONE arrival at 330am [Fedex] and NO departures - the only arrivals are when the American and United flights from MIA/ORD/DFW are running late and land after midnight. So you are going to put TWO people into a control tower at how many hundreds of dollars per hours for salary, benefits, shift differential etc etc etc for maybe 4 flights over a 6 hour period?

That just make sooooo much sense to me. Same thing at every other airport. There is a control tower at John Wayne Orange County that is manned 24 hours a day- yet there is a noise curfew from 11p to 7a - no one can land or take off - whats the point of that?

Now they'll have someone to sleep with!

Yeah...outraged....NOT ONE DEPT in Govt WORKS! A bunch of freeloaders, protected by their political Party, and the parasitic union. No wonder we are BANKRUPT! A 38% tax on campaign contributions would SOLVE a lot of problems, but not as much IF WE voters flushed the danged political toilet FAR MORE OFTEN. See how many geriatrics in their 70s, 80s and sometimes 90s!!!! are fattening their portfolios?

Most people are outraged at the controler being asleep when they should be outraged at the working conditions they are under. This is one of the most stressfull jobs out there. Not just anybody can do it. I wonder what the turn over rate is. Thank Ronald Reagan for putting you life at risk when he fired them for striking to get better working conditions so that they work so hard they fall asleep.

I really hope this problem is addressed immediately and that the remedy is efficient.

Good thing the plane landed safely.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: