The Federal Aviation Administration official in charge of operating the air traffic control system has resigned amid revelations that several controllers have fallen asleep on the job this year, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said Thursday.
The resignation comes after the latest reported incident of an air traffic controller falling asleep on duty. According to the FAA, "a controller fell asleep while a medical flight carrying an ill patient was trying to land" Wednesday morning at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada.
It would be the sixth incident this year involving a sleeping controller that the FAA has disclosed. One occurred at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, another at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee, and three incidents involving the same person occurred at Boeing Field/King County International Airport in Seattle.
The FAA said it also suspended two controllers in Lubbock, Texas, for an incident in the early hours of March 29 in which they failed to hand off control of a departing flight to the Fort Worth Air Traffic Control Center, and responded only after several attempts by the same center to hand them control of an arriving flight.
The FAA statement did not indicate whether the Lubbock controllers were thought to have been asleep.