FAA Suspends Air Traffic Controller For Watching DVD On The Job

Posted Apr 19th 2011 08:30 AMUpdated Apr 19th 2011 12:06 PM


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Apparently sleeping on the job isn't the only problem the FAA has to deal with. Last week, a slew of air traffic controllers were fired for falling asleep on the job. On Thursday, a senior FAA official resigned in the wake of the scandal. Now comes news that an air traffic controller was watching a movie while on the job.

The New York Post reports that a Cleveland-area air traffic controller was watching the 2007 Samuel L. Jackson movie "Cleaner" while working at a regional radar center early Sunday morning.

The controller, in charge of handling high-altitude traffic at Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center, left his microphone on for three minutes, allowing pilots of nearby planes to hear the movie.

The FAA suspended the controller and a manager. A military pilot who overheard the movie alerted authorities, according to USA Today.

The FAA also claims that the controller violated policy for bringing a DVD player with him to work, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Just last week Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, told the Associated Press: "On my watch, controllers will not be paid to take naps. We're not going to allow that."


Filed Under: Air Travel, News, Video

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well okay, I just gotta comment on some of this stuff. Air Traffic Controllers do an exceptional job. We have the safest skies in the world. The general publics perception of what we do is often skewed and uninformed. You have all dosed off at one time or another doing whatever, reading, driving, watching TV. Its 3am and it does not matter how much sleep you got before coming to work. Your natural body clock wants to shut down, 95% of the time you succeed at fighting off sleep. These instances are rare and generally the result of one employer angry or disgruntled with another and see an opportunity to get even by turning them in for that 20 second nod. Managers are on duty, but generally one manager covering an entire facility with several different areas. We are federal employees, money or funds dictate how many controllers are on duty. If we work short its because of the beaurucrats putting money before safety.

October 31 2013 at 12:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And another thing. This job that pays very well, is more difficult than one can imagine. We need the cooperation of all passengers. You must not nap during your flight, because you need to be looking out your portholes and over the wings and are far as you can see, for close range airplanes. If you see a plane nearby, tell your attendant so that they can send a wake up call to the ATC on duty and have them make an announcement like"United, you are flying too close to Contenental." Help out your air control persons. There is no "I" in safety. Although us guys are stressed and get good salaries, we need the cooperation of everyone.Thank you and goodnight.

April 24 2011 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


April 20 2011 at 6:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sjpxmas's comment

sounds like you were one of the guys fired..

April 23 2011 at 8:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have to say more about the many comments and more about ATC's. The position of air traffic controller is very challenging. Yes the pay is better than most jobs but it takes a special animal to do the job well. The ATC's do a good job. They are constantly scrutinized and for the people who think the suspensions are with pay, think again. I have been reetired from the position for 10 years and I still have nightmares about crashing airplanes. Why you ask, because I cared and still do. The job is an ego trip because the controller knows he is GOD. For all of you jealous people out there that berate the controllers, don't dare open your mouth unless you know of what you speak. Now let the first one of you who is perfect cast the first stone.

April 19 2011 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is this a Unionized nap and dvd to get more controllers a good job and pay more dues?

April 19 2011 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There are systemic problems with how the FAA manages ATCs. A lot of the mismanagement is showing through in the stories that are being discussed right now. Turnaround shifts and rotating nights shifts, obvious and scientifically documented causes of sleep deprivation, should not be a standard for safety critical jobs. And the blanketed policy against any electronic devices in the tower, such as radios- which many of us listen to at work, has relevance during high demand times, but is short sighted for day shift employees forced to work through the night alone once a week. I recognize that this situation was on a Sunday morning, and was a dvd, not a radio, but I think this is an attempt to confuse the issue of the negligence and mismanagement of officials at the FAA by painting their staff as a bunch of lagabouts.
Thinking of the handful of ATCs who have nodded off as lazy slackers is an oversimplified, and incorrect view of the actual problem. The working conditions are honestly dangerous, and could have catastrophic consequences for many people. The real solution would be one that ensures safety for travelers by providing ATCs with an opportunity to do their jobs well, and then replacing those who do not.

April 19 2011 at 6:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

gravy job man! great pay!

April 19 2011 at 5:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

If I watch movies or sleep on the job I get fired, if a union public servant does the same they get a paid vacation on my dime.

April 19 2011 at 5:23 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

being a retired government employee I can tell you the problem does not lie with the employees, it lies with the managers. Management is fully aware of what goes on in all the various agencies and when something goes wrong they simply look for scape goats to pass the blame on to. You wouldn't believe some of the horror stories that exist in today's beaurocracy. Gov't employees have a reputation of being stupid and lazy, I'm here to tell you that unfortunately it is a largely deserved reputation.

April 19 2011 at 5:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If i had done the same on my job i would have been FIRED.

April 19 2011 at 4:59 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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