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.
[Updated at 12:50 p.m.] The man questioned overnight by the FBI after authorities found a suspicious object in his luggage at Miami International Airport has been told he is free to go, a U.S. government official told CNN.
"The container was a legitimate experiment," the official said, adding that the man, a U.S. citizen, will not be charged.
[updated at 10:55 a.m.] The man currently being questioned by the FBI after a suspicious object was found in his luggage at Miami International Airport is a scientist who once spent time in prison for illegally transporting vials of deadly bubonic plague, CNN has learned.
The 70-year-old man, whom CNN is not naming because he has not been charged, was convicted of transporting the plague nearly a decade ago.
The man's criminal history helps explain why authorities shut down much of Miami International Airport late Thursday for about eight hours, and why first responders in hazmat suits were dispatched to the scene.
The Federal Aviation Administration is changing a generations-old policy banning pilots from taking antidepressants, saying the new policy will improve safety by bringing to the surface pilots who either ignore signs of depression or lie about their use of medication for fear of losing their licenses to fly.