'Incapacitated' air controller directs flights over McCarran Airport

Air traffic control.JPG

An "incapacitated" air traffic controller was directing the skies over McCarran International Airport Wednesday night.

The incident, which has left many people outraged, is now being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Airport radio transmissions from Wednesday night serve to illustrate the problem. The air traffic controller's speech seems slow and hard to understand.

The woman is directing a Frontier Airlines pilot for takeoff but has a problem giving the exact runway. The pilot tries to get a confirmation.

"Confirm is runway Frontier 262 clear for take off?" the pilot asks. "One right controller."

"Sorry 262 running. Go," the controller responded.

The transmissions go on for at least 30 minutes. Several pilots voiced their concerns to the air controller.

"Everyone hold for 1 right," one pilot is said. "We are number 1. We are a little concerned about this. We are waiting it out."

The air controller responds back.

"1069, you are concerned about what?" she asks.

Pilots then ask for other help.

"Do you have anyone else up there?" one is heard asking.

The FAA confirmed the incident and issued this statement:

"On Wednesday evening, an air traffic controller at the Las Vegas tower became incapacitated while on duty. The FAA is deeply concerned by the incident, is thoroughly investigating what occurred, and is taking immediate steps to modify its overnight shift staffing policies. No safety events occurred during this incident. The controller is being placed on administrative leave and restricted from working air traffic."

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association responded:

"We will cooperate with the FAA as it investigates this incident, so that all facts are known."

Congresswoman Dina Titus was briefed on this incident.

"I find the initial reports deeply disturbing," Titus said.

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