SEATTLE -- The Federal Aviation Administration has suspended an air traffic controller at Boeing Field in Seattle for falling asleep during his morning shift Monday.
The controller was monitoring local traffic in the airport tower cab while two other controllers worked arriving and departing aircraft, the agency said in a news release issued Tuesday.
The incident is under investigation. The FAA said the same controller is already facing disciplinary action for falling asleep twice during an evening shift in January.
In the news release that disclosed the Boeing Field incident, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt announced that effective immediately the FAA will place an additional air traffic controller on the midnight shift at 27 control towers currently staffed by only one controller in the overnight hours.
The action comes after a Tuesday incident at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada when a controller fell asleep while a medical flight carrying an ill patient was trying to land. The medical flight, in communication with the Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Control, was able to land safely.
The FAA has also suspended two controllers for a March 29 incident in Lubbock, Texas, in which controllers failed to appropriately hand off control of a departing aircraft to the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center.
"I am totally outraged by these incidents ..." said LaHood. "The American public trusts us to run a safe system."
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