Multiple Reports Of Air Traffic Controllers Sleeping On The Job Forces FAA's Air Traffic Chief To Resign

Hank Krakowski, the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) chief operating officer of air traffic, resigned April 14, 2011 amid recent reports of air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job.

The latest incident occurred on April 13, 2011 in Nevada when a medical flight carrying a critically ill passenger attempted to land at Reno-Tahoe International Airport with an air traffic controller sleeping while on duty.

In a statement, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt strongly condemned the unprofessional conduct that has called into question the public's confidence in air travel safety. The FAA's chief council David Grizzle will take over as acting ATO officer until a new candidate is found to permanently replace Mr. Krakowski.

The change in leadership comes on the heels of criticism from members of Congress who oversee the FAA's budget. "I just got off the phone with the FAA and told the Administrator that I am sick of this," said Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Senator Rockefeller's comments echoed those of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood when he told George Stephanopoulos on ABC World News, "I'll be grabbing the agency by the ears. I guarantee the flying public we will not sleep until we can guarantee that there's good safety in the control towers when these airplanes are coming in and out of airports."
The FAA currently has five investigations regarding air traffic controllers sleeping on duty.