Aviation News

April 18, 2011

Again: Cleveland Air Traffic Controller Suspended for Watching Movie on Duty

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By: BNO News
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Movie popcorn
An air traffic controller in Ohio has been suspended after he was found watching a movie while on duty, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on late Monday.

Movie popcorn

FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said in a statement that the incident happened at the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center in Oberlin during the early morning hours on Sunday while the controller was working a radar position.

“For a little more than three minutes, the controller’s microphone was inadvertently activated, transmitting the soundtrack of the movie over the radio frequency for that airspace,” the statement said. It gave no details on the type of movie being watched.

The problem was brought to air traffic control’s attention by the pilot of a military aircraft who was using an alternate frequency. “The controller and the front line manager have been suspended from operational duties pending an investigation,” the statement added.

The FAA said the controller was watching the movie on a portable electronic device, in violation of FAA policy which prohibits the use of portable DVD players and other devices on the floor of the radar room.

The news comes after a series of published incidents in which air traffic controllers fell asleep while on duty. In the most recent incident, an air traffic controller fell asleep on Saturday while on duty during the midnight shift at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center.

As a result of the incidents, the FAA on Sunday announced several changes to air traffic controller scheduling practices that will allow controllers more time for rest between shifts. Those changes are currently being put in place.