US aviation authorities further shook up air traffic management following embarrassing incidents involving sleeping controllers and mistakes handling first lady Michelle Obama’s plane.
Randy Babbitt, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, reassigned three senior managers, including those responsible for airport towers, approach and departure centres, and transoceanic operations. All three were replaced.
“This is just the beginning of the process to make sure we have the best possible team in place,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, whose agency oversees the FAA, Reuters reports.
The chief of air traffic operations, Hank Krakowski, resigned two weeks ago amid uproar over disclosures of tower and other controllers falling asleep on the job. Three controllers have been fired.
Those problems were magnified by widely publicized air traffic miscues last week involving a government plane carrying the first lady and Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, landing in Washington.
Separately on Friday, the FAA established an independent committee to evaluate air traffic control training and job placement. Academic experts, airline and FAA officials and the air traffic controller union is represented on the five-member review panel.
The FAA oversees 15,000 air traffic controllers who handle more than 9 million commercial and private flights annually at more than 400 airports.