FAA doubles tower staffing at 27 airports; official resigns

By Howard Dicus - bio | email

HONOLULU and WASHINGTON (HawaiiNewsNow) - The FAA hastily ordered double-staffing on the overnight shift at 27 airports nationwide due to more incidents of lone controllers who may have fallen asleep.

Hank Krakowski, the director of FAA's air traffic operations, resigned, the agency confirmed Thursday morning.

The recent incident at Reagan National airport in Washington, D.C., in which two commercial flights landed unaided while a controller snoozed, turns out not to have been an isolated incident.

"This conduct must stop immediately," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

In announcing the extra staffing, the FAA reveals that there was a similar incident in January in Lubbock, Texas, another one April 11 at Seattle's Boeing Field, and one Tuesday in Reno.

Reno, San Diego and Sacramento, which have direct Hawaii air connections, are among the 27 airports to get a second air traffic controller on the overnight shift. So will towers in Burbank and Ontario, Calif. No Hawaii airports will.

Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County, Md., home base for Air Force One, is also among the 27 locations.

Regional air traffic control centers, which guide flights between airports, can monitor flights on radar as they land at airports where there is no tower staffing or the local air control controller cannot be raised.

Aviation experts say the true safety issue is that many airports have a lot of ground traffic on the overnight shift including vehicles crossing the runways and taxiways and aircraft being towed.

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