FAA Mandates Controller Wake-Up Calls

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Reacting to last week's incident at Reagan National Airport when a sleeping controller supervisor failed to respond to radio calls from two airplane crews late at night, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has announced an "interim plan" that he says will ensure it won't happen again. The plan requires controllers at radar facilities to contact towers where a single controller covers the overnight shift to confirm they are ready when an incoming flight is approaching. Babbitt also ordered a nationwide review of the ATC system to ensure that appropriate backup procedures are being used. "I am determined to make sure we do not repeat Wednesday's unacceptable event," Babbitt said.

Babbitt formerly said he was "personally outraged" by the controller's failure to respond. The NTSB said the controller, who was a supervisor, admitted to having fallen asleep while working his fourth consecutive overnight shift (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.). Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asked for a study of staffing levels at other airports around the country. Babbitt will be visiting Sun 'n Fun this week. AVweb editors Paul Bertorelli and Mary Grady posted blogs about the incident which have sparked a lively discussion; click here to read.