Air Traffic Controller Asleep "Willfully," Babbit Tells Congress

Weeks after planes landed at Reagan National airport despite a sleeping air traffic controller, the FAA is investigating another incident of a controller asleep on the job, CNN reports.

As FAA administrator Randy Babbitt was being questioned by Representative Tom Latham (R-Iowa), the chairman of a transportation subcommittee, Babbitt revealed that there was another, more recent incident of a sleeping air traffic controller.

Babbitt declined to give further details despite further questions by Latham. The employee in question was "willfully" sleeping, Babbitt said, and would be terminated.

In March, an air traffic controller, three hours into his midnight shift, fell asleep on the job, leaving the control tower unmanned. Two commercial planes were preparing to land but unable to communicate with the tower so instead landed at a regional airport some 40 miles from Reagan.

In response to the incident, Babbitt issued a FAA directive ordered controllers at regional airports contact towers at other, bigger airports where there is only one controller on duty at night before sending planes on for landings, the Associated Press reported in March.

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