FAA Adding Jobs After Controllers Caught Sleeping

VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP (WWJ/AP) – The Federal Aviation Administration said it’s adding a second controller at night at Michigan’s Willow Run Airport and 26 other locations after finding two more cases of controllers sleeping on duty.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the moves Wednesday, hours after a medical flight carrying at least three people landed at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada without assistance because the pilot was unable to raise a controller in the airport tower.

FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro told AnnArbor.com that Willow Run will go from one to two controllers on the overnight shift. The cargo field is in Wayne County’s Van Buren Township, about 25 miles west-southwest of Detroit.

Wayne County Airport Authority spokesman Scott Winter said local officials have been pressing for some time for a staffing increase at Willow Run.

“Though we’re delighted to have this additional investment in our airport, I think it’s important to note too, there have been no recorded incidents of controllers asleep at the switch at either Detroit Metro or Willow Run Airports,” Winter said.

The Associated Press contributes to this report.

  • Sally

    As Homer Simpson would say Duh. One person alone-a stroke, slip, fall, and bang their head on a counter, diabetic coma, a bad case of the flu starting, food poisoning from dinner/breakfast. All of these are possibilities that can happen to someone. And before you say they cannot, I worked midnights and literally had to lay down in the employee lounge at 5 am because a case of the flu hit me. I was supposed to leave at 8 am but did not feel well enough to leave until 9:30. I then called in sick the next two days. If there had not been others working with me, the entire shift would have been uncovered. If I would have had to call for someone to come in, I would have been laying on the floor in the office when they would have arrived and still unable to fulfill my duties. My job was in a hospital lab and was busy all night not just a case where the phone rang one every couple of hours. I am surprised there has not been a serious incident before now to cause a loss of life.

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