Child Directed Planes At JFK Airport An air traffic controller at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport took the concept of bring your child to work day to new heights. The controller brought the child to work in the airport's tower, where the youngster gave take off instructions to pilots.
NPR logo

Child Directed Planes At JFK Airport

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124285968/124285930" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Child Directed Planes At JFK Airport

Child Directed Planes At JFK Airport

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124285968/124285930" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

An air traffic controller at New York's JFK Airport took the concept of bring your child to work day to a new level. The controller brought the child to work in the airport's tower, where at least one of the youngsters gave takeoff instructions to pilots. JFK is one of the nation's busiest airports and an investigation is underway.

NPR's Brian Naylor has the story.

BRIAN NAYLOR: Recordings of the radio conversations between the child and the tower and pilots in the cockpit were posted online at a Web site devoted to controller talk last month and first reported by a Boston TV station.

(Soundbite of recording)

Unidentified Child: JetBlue 171 contact departure.

Unidentified Man #1: Over to departure, JetBlue 171, awesome job.

NAYLOR: In another transmission, what appears to be the child's father offers a note of explanation followed by a pilot's lament.

(Soundbite of recording)

Unidentified Man #2: That's what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Man #3: Wish I could bring my kid to work.

NAYLOR: In fact, the FAA now says the controller brought two children to work with him. One on the night of February 16th, the second the next afternoon. The incident seems to have occurred at a time when New York City area school kids were on their February break and whether it was a lack of child care or a lack of common sense, the Federal Aviation Administration is not amused. In a statement, FAA administrator Randy Babbitt called it a lapse in judgment. Babbitt said these kinds of distractions are totally unacceptable.

The Department of Transportation has been campaigning against distractions involving everything from texting drivers to chatting pilots - and this is likely to add more fuel to the fire. Still, the pilots who were recorded seemed bemused, including one on an Aeromexico flight.

(Soundbite of recording)

Unidentified Child: (unintelligible) adios, amigos.

Unidentified Man #4: Adios amigo, over to departure, JetBlue 195.

NAYLOR: The controller and his supervisor, whose names have not been released, are on leave with pay, pending the outcome of the FAA's investigation. The FAA has temporarily suspended all unofficial visits to air traffic control towers and radar rooms during the probe. The union representing the controller said the incident, quote, "is not indicative of the highest professional standards that controllers set for themselves and exceed each and every day."

Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.