PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. — The head of the Federal Aviation Administration said yesterday that he is infuriated that air traffic controllers have been caught snoozing on the job, but insisted the government will not permit its controllers to nap during breaks to fight fatigue.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt opened the first of a series of national meetings on the problem by addressing about 50 FAA employees at an air traffic control center about 30 miles southwest of Atlanta. He was joined by Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
Since late March, the FAA has disclosed five cases of air traffic controllers sleeping at work. And yesterday the FAA said another air controller has been suspended, this time for watching a movie when he was supposed to be monitoring aircraft.
The incident happened early Sunday at a regional radar center in Cleveland that handles high altitude air traffic. The controller’s microphone was inadvertently activated, briefly transmitting the movie’s soundtrack to pilots, the agency said.
Babbitt said sleeping workers have put a blemish on the FAA. “None of us in this business can . . . tolerate any of this,’’ he said. “It absolutely has to stop.’’
Federal authorities have rejected one proposed solution: allowing controllers to take naps on scheduled breaks.