Controller Fails On-Duty Alcohol Test

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A Denver air traffic controller has been relieved from duty after failing a routine, random FAA drug-and-alcohol test while six hours into his shift, which was scheduled for 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on July 5, the FAA said this week. The legal limit for controllers on duty is .02 (for drivers over age 21, the legal limit is .08); the FAA did not say how far above the limit the controller tested. The controller has been relieved from duty and is now in an alcohol rehabilitation facility. The FAA said it is investigating the incident. Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said in a statement that the incident was "deeply troubling."

"We do not condone the alleged conduct at Denver Center currently under investigation," Rinaldi said. "We are proud of our safety record both there and at every facility and will continue to work to keep our airspace system the world's safest." The controller was working at the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center in Longmont, Colo. A family member told KMGH, a local news outlet, that the controller was given a choice, to either go to rehab or resign. KMGH also reported that the controller has been with the FAA for at least 25 years, and will be eligible for reinstatement after completing rehab.