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JFK ATC Allows Kids to Transmit
03-05-2010, 10:47 PM
Post: #1

Quote:New York (CNN) -- "Unauthorized and unprofessional" is how an internal memo describes the conduct of an air traffic controller, who allegedly allowed his two young children to speak with pilots on an air traffic control frequency, and his supervisor, who allegedly allowed it to happen.

The memo, dated February 25, was written after the facilities manager for the air traffic control tower at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport learned about the incident, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN.

"The display of professionalism in the past by the control personnel at this facility has been exemplary," the memo said. "However, a lapse in judgment for what may seem a minor transgression diminishes our credibility and slights the high standards of professionalism."

It was not immediately clear what prompted the manager to write the memo or how he found out about the incident, the source said.

The incidents occurred on succeeding days last month at JFK, the Federal Aviation Administration said this week, and the controller and the supervisor have been placed on paid administrative leave.

"We have an incredible team of professionals who safely control our nation's skies every single day. This kind of behavior does not reflect the true caliber of our workforce," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in the statement Wednesday.

Babbitt was referring to the February 16 incident involving the controller's young son, who is heard in a recording -- posted on -- clearing a JetBlue flight for takeoff and later speaking to an apparent Aeromexico flight.

Later, an FAA official, who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing investigation, said the controller brought his daughter into the same tower the following day, and the child was allowed to talk with pilots of two planes.

A separate source said the supervisor "should be making sure that things like this don't happen."

Yet another source familiar with the investigation said the two children are twins.

The controller who brought the children to work later reported that he had done so, the source said. The controller and supervisor involved are veteran employees, the official said.

Dave Pascoe owner of the Web site where the recording of the air traffic communications is posted, told CNN he thinks the attention the incident has drawn is "ridiculous" and it has been "blown out of proportion."

In the recording, a child says, "JetBlue 171, cleared for takeoff."

A man then tells the plane, "Here's what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school."

The pilot chuckles and says, "Wish I could bring my kid to work." The same pilot later tells the child, "Awesome job."

During the recording, which is dated February 17, the child also speaks to an apparent Aeromexico flight. A recording from the following day, when the daughter was reportedly in the tower, also was posted on the Web site.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown later said the incident took place about 7:30 p.m. February 16.

Pascoe said most people "in the aviation community felt like this was (not) anything more than a noble thing, that a father would take his kid to work."

"It was one incident where a kid was up in the control tower," he said. "If you know anything about aviation, you know that the air traffic control towers are highly supervised. ... A father was taking a child to work and let the kid clear planes for takeoff and now the world thinks it's an unsafe place."

The FAA has suspended all unofficial visits to air traffic control operational areas during its investigation into the incident. Babbitt has directed a team to review air traffic control policies and procedures related to facility visitors.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the union representing controllers, issued a statement, saying its members "do not condone this type of behavior in any way."

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What's your take? Fine or unacceptable? I'm unsure for such a busy airport, but if it's a low trafficked airport, in my opinion, it's not a big problem. If the kids screwed up then the ATC can take control immediately and correct the situation, like how cadet pilots screw up and the instructor takes over Tongue
03-06-2010, 10:59 AM
Post: #2
Quote:Air traffic controller suspended for allowing son to direct planes
March 4, 2010

An air traffic controller who brought his son to work let the youngster read a few routine messages to pilots — and then brought in another child the next day — in an incident that amused pilots but not the Federal Aviation Administration.

Authorities suspended the controller and a supervisor on Wednesday after a recording of the radio calls was posted on the internet, then reported by a Boston television station.

"This lapse in judgment not only violated FAA's own policies, but common-sense standards for professional conduct," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement.

"These kinds of distractions are totally unacceptable.

"This kind of behaviour does not reflect the true calibre of our work force."

During his visit, the boy got to squeak out a few more instructions to pilots before signing off, including telling the crew aboard a departing Aero Mexico flight, "Adios, amigos."

On the recording, which lasts about a minute, the elementary-school-age boy appears to repeat instructions fed to him by his father.

At no time does the child tell aircraft how to manoeuvre in flight.

At the time, pilots appeared delighted.

"I wish I could bring my kid to work," one said.

Nevertheless, the FAA said it has also barred unofficial visits by friends or relatives to FAA air traffic operational areas while it reviews its policies.

Radio transmissions between air traffic controllers and pilots are routinely streamed live on the internet.

A user of one popular website devoted to controller talk,, posted a recording of the child's radio calls not long after they happened on February 16 - a date when many New York schoolchildren were on a midwinter break.

The boy made five transmissions to pilots preparing for departure, according to the recording.

"JetBlue 171, cleared for takeoff," the boy says in his first call.

His father follows that up with a more detailed instruction for the aircraft, which was headed to Sacramento, California.

He then offers an explanation to pilots on the air: "This is what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school."

In a second exchange, the boy instructs the same JetBlue flight to contact departure controllers.

The pilot responds: "Over to departure, JetBlue 171. Awesome job!"

There are a few more similar exchanges. A pilot laughs. The boy can be overheard giggling.

Based on the flight numbers called out during the exchange, the episode appears to have happened in the early evening, when JFK is often bustling with international flights.

The FAA offered scant detail on its investigation and would not reveal the name of the controller or supervisor.

Control towers are highly secure areas, although the agency does sometimes give employees permission to bring their children for a tour.

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.

LiveATC founder Dave Pascoe, a pilot and radio enthusiast, said he was sickened at the thought that the controller could be disciplined.

"I absolutely believe that this is being blown out of proportion," he said.

"This is just a completely controlled situation. A child was being told exactly what to say."

He added: "I think it's just fantastic that this guy cared enough to take his kid to work. How many parents take their kids to work these days?"

The episode comes less than seven months after a controller at an airport in nearby Teterboro, New Jersey, was placed on leave for his actions in the moments leading up to a deadly crash between a helicopter and small plane over the Hudson River.

The controller was recorded joking on the phone with his girlfriend as he dispatched instructions to the doomed plane.

He ended the call when he realised the plane had dropped out of radio contact, just seconds before the crash.


"Learn from mistake" is totally not suitable for a pilot. You might be don't have chance to fly again after you did a mistake. You can only learn from people's mistake.

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