FAA Investigates After Child Directs Air Traffic at JFK

Travel News — By Nicole Lerner on March 4, 2010 at 10:33 am

The FAA is currently investigating an air traffic controller after he allegedly allowed his small children to communicate with pilots on the air traffic control frequency at JFK airport last month. The incident, which was captured in audio recording and posted on LiveATC.net, involves the controller’s young son clearing a Jet Blue flight for takeoff and communicating with another Air Mexico flight.

The supervisor on duty at the time is also under investigation. The FAA has released a statement, saying: “Pending the outcome of our investigation, the employees involved in this incident are not controlling air traffic. This behavior is not acceptable and does not demonstrate the kind of professionalism expected from all FAA employees.”

Dave Pascoe, who owns the website where the recordings were posted, thinks the situation is ridiculous, saying “when you listen to any of the recordings, the situation in the tower is very controlled. There is no hint … that anyone was too busy or anyone was interrupting the planes. … It was very controlled, and I don’t think safety was compromised.”

The Twittersphere has been abuzz with opinions on the matter too:

“They need 2 relax bout the child going 2 wrk w her dad & “helping” Air Traffic Control-tell em never 2 do again-not suspend him-Thoughts?” – Singer and songwriter, Jewel (@jeweljk)

“The Air Traffic Controller & his supervisor that allowed the child in the tower should be fired. It’s no place for distractions & not ‘cute'” – @AtlantaMichael

“NO! THE GUY SHOULD BE FIRED! RT @ricksanchezcnn: *frp* Air traffic controller who brought kids to work is suspended. Did FAA over react?” – @cjpatel32

“@jeweljk thats a tough one. Air Traffic control is responsible for air safety. Lotta lives at stake. Bad judgement. No1 hurt. Reprimand ok” – @CoalMinerTN

So what do you guys think? Irresponsibility on the job, or just a case of take your kid to work day blown out of proportion?

Let us know in the comments.

[Image: Mr. Mystery]

Tags: air traffic control, FAA


  • Victoria says:

    Honestly, I see no problem with this. The kid was clearly not making any decisions, merely repeating verbatim what his dad would have said himself.

  • Alexi Ueltzen says:

    Blown out of proportion. When you listen to the tape, you can hear the suppressed laughter in the Air Mexico pilot’s voices as the kid tells them, “Adios.” Please worry about something important like healthcare, or jobs, or whether it will be sunny enough to hang out outside this weekend.

  • Zanni says:

    Wow – my friend is an air traffic controller at LAX and she has said its a tense atmosphere with no room for distractions. Its not the typical take your kid to work day when hundreds of peoples lives are literally hanging in the balance. FAA should fire that person so the spot can be opened for a more responsible person.

  • Rachel Greenberg says:

    All those cookies I ate at Take Your Child To Work Day at my mom’s law firm USED to seem cool…I didn’t even know air traffic control was an option!

    I vote: blown out of proportion.

  • Amy Widdowson says:

    I’m really torn about this issue. While I agree it was blown out of proportion, I still don’t think it’s appropriate. It’s one thing to show Junior around your work, it’s a whole other thing to let you participate in it. Cops bring their kids to work at the station, but don’t have them help with a drug bust…

    My real issue is with everyone else… CHILL, TWITTERSPHERE. The FAA is on top of it, no one was injured, go back to your daily routine.

  • Amy Widdowson says:

    Or, to add to my previous comment – Surgeons can take their kids to the hospital, but won’t bring them in to a gall-bladder removal.

  • Tyler Renaghan says:

    What a great debate! While I think people are acting a little crazy about the whole thing and overreacting, I think letting your child direct jets is completely unacceptable. It’s a little funny to think about it now after the fact because nobody got hurt, but imagine if something bad happened…I don’t think it would be that funny.


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