Kid Stuff: Child Controls Air Traffic at JFK

04 MAR 2010:  Dad got more than a detention for this one. The Federal Aviation Administration suspended an air traffic controller and a supervisor after they permitted the controller’s elementary-school-aged child to direct air traffic at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Now it’s been learned that everybody had so much fun, a second child, was allowed the same privileges the following day.  An investigation is underway.

In transmissions broadcast by local media, a child, presumably under the supervision of an adult, can be heard directing pilots. The incident reportedly happened two weeks ago.

At one point an adult voice can be heard telling a pilot: “This is what you get guys when the kids are out of school.”

However, the pilots seemed to get a kick out of the controller kid, with one congratulating him on doing an “awesome job” and another saying, “I wish I could bring my kid to work.”

Spoilsports that they are, the FAA were not amused, announcing that pending the outcome of its investigation the employees involved in the incident were not controlling air traffic.

“This lapse in judgment not only violated FAA’s own policies, but common sense standards for professional conduct. These kinds of distractions are totally unacceptable,” FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement. “This kind of behaviour does not reflect the true calibre of our work force.”

Even the union representing air traffic controllers condemned the worker’s behaviour.

“It is not indicative of the highest professional standards that controllers set for themselves and exceed each and everyday in the advancement of aviation safety,” the National Air Traffic Controllers Association said in a statement.

Nearly 48 million passengers pass through John F. Kennedy airport annually.

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