Safety checks in place at Sky Harbor for air traffic controlPosted: Updated:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The possibility that a lone air traffic controller fell asleep on the job late at night is prompting a review of control tower staffing nationwide.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood ordered the review after pilots of two passenger jets couldn't reach a controller as they approached Washington's Reagan National Airport this week.
One aviation official, speaking on grounds of anonymity, says the air traffic supervisor on duty had fallen asleep.
LaHood directed the Federal Aviation Administration to put two air traffic controllers on the midnight shift at Reagan, saying it's unacceptable to have one person managing Washington's critical air space.
But a former controller who heads the industry-funded Flight Safety Foundation says it's not necessarily unreasonable to have just one person on duty. Bill Voss says it's "not outrageous" to avoid putting a second six-figure employee in a tower where they may only work a dozen flights in a shift.
The pilots contacted a regional FAA facility and landed safely.
The National Transportation Safety Board is considering whether to launch a formal investigation.