LAS VEGAS – Federal and airport authorities said on Friday that they are investigating why an air traffic controller became…
LAS VEGAS – Federal and airport authorities said on Friday that they are investigating why an air traffic controller became unable and quiet while working a night shift alone in the tower at the busy McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
“No security events occurred during this event,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement about what officials said was a 40-minute span during which female inspector slurred words and then apparently lost consciousness just before midnight on Wednesday.
“An air traffic controller at the Las Vegas Tower became incapable of being in office,” said the agency. It did not identify the regulator or the reason for her inability.
Airport Director Rosemary Vassiliadis issued a statement stating that the first findings brought the FAA assessment.
Five incoming aircraft remained airborne during the incident and aircraft on the ground were held or communicated between themselves to maintain safety while moving, FAA said.
Air traffic recordings available on the internet show commercial airline pilots who find it hard to understand the regulator during radio communications on landing, cabling off and directions. Some people start talking about something wrong.
At one time the governor sounds sleepy and apologizes for the radio and says she “chooses a little”. Minutes later she fails an aircraft’s call number. Finally, her microphone opens for the sound of coughing and grunting.
She does not answer a pilot’s survey before the voice of a male voice is heard in the room asking if the woman is okay.
Officials said a male checker who had been on the break was invited to return to the tower. Paramedics responded.
FAA said that the woman was on administrative leave and the agency ordered two inspectors to be in the tower during busy hours.
“FAA is deeply concerned about the incident, thoroughly investigating what happened and taking immediate steps to modify its personnel monitoring policy overnight,” said the agency.
McCarran is among the 1
0 busiest airports in the United States in the passenger volume. The regulator worked a little more than an hour before problems began and communicated with pilots on 29 aircraft before being replaced.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association Manager Paul Rinaldi issued a statement commended the work of thousands of union members around the country and promising cooperation in the FAA investigation “so that all facts are known.”