Feds Probe Sleeping Air Traffic Controller

Two planes landed at Washington's Reagan National Airport on Tuesday night without control tower clearance. They were in communication with a regional air traffic control facility in Virginia.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

NPR's business news starts with the snoozing air traffic controller.

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INSKEEP: Federal air safety officials are looking into why the lone air traffic controller in Washington's Reagan National Airport did not respond to calls from pilots trying to land. The early reports here suggests that the veteran air traffic controller was asleep.

Pilots of two incoming flights had to land on their own after failing to establish contact with the control tower.

This incident does raise some questions about staffing, and last night Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood said he gave an order requiring that two air traffic controllers be placed on the midnight shift, not just one.

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