US FAA seeks to fire second sleeping controller

WASHINGTON Thu Apr 7, 2011 4:59am EDT

The main air traffic control tower at Reagan Washington National Airport is seen on March 24, 2011. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

The main air traffic control tower at Reagan Washington National Airport is seen on March 24, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration FAA.L has identified a second air traffic controller who fell asleep on the job, the agency said on Wednesday.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt told a congressional hearing that the controller was "found intentionally sleeping" in the radar room during a midnight shift on February 19 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Babbitt said the agency is seeking to have the person, who was not named, fired.

The sleeping controller was found asleep with cushions and a blanket.

The airport tower controller was forced to perform his own duties as well as handle radar responsibilities for seven flights while the other controller slept, Babbitt said.

Last month, U.S. aviation authorities said a lone controller at the tower at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport fell asleep on the job on March 23, leaving two jetliners to land without any airport guidance.

That controller, a 20-year veteran and a supervisor, was suspended.

(Reporting by John Crawley, Editing by Sandra Maler)