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Child air traffic controller incident blown out of proportion by FAA

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Published on Mon, Mar 8, 2010 by BY PAM STEVENS | MANAGING EDITOR

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Take your Daughter to Work Day has become common place in America since its beginning in 1993 but what happened at JFK Airport in New York last month was probably not what founder Gloria Steinem had in mind when she started the program.

It seems that one of the air traffic controllers brought two of his children to work with him two days in a row and on Feb. 16 one daughter was recorded on a website talking to pilots on two different planes.
Both he and his supervisor are under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“Jet Blue 171 cleared for take-off,” the young girl is heard saying. In background her father is coaching her and seems to have everything under control.  The controller jokes with the pilot saying, ““Here’s what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school.”

The pilot laughs and says, “Wish I could bring my kid to work.” The same pilot later tells the child, “Awesome job.”

While it is understandable that the FAA is upset, it seems a little extreme that they have suspended all unofficial visits to air traffic control operational areas, such as towers and radar rooms until their investigation has been completed.

Even the use of the word “investigation” seems extreme. Disciplinary action should probably take place but an entire investigation will cost money and time.

The website where the girl’s talk to the pilots is heard is used for training purposes for air traffic controllers but can be heard by anyone. Had this website not been heard by a Boston television station, none of this would have come to the surface.

Dave Pascoe, owner of the web site where the recordings took place says that the whole thing is “ridiculous” and has been “blown out of proportion”. I tend to agree.

Pascoe said most people “in the aviation community felt like this was [not] anything more than a noble thing, that a father would take his kid to work. And when you listen to any of the recordings, the situation in the tower is very controlled. There is no hint ... that anyone was too busy or anyone was interrupting the planes. ... It was very controlled, and I don’t think safety was compromised, nor should anyone be disciplined for this.”

It would be shocking to think that the air traffic controller, or any air traffic controller for that matter, will ever do anything like this again so the FAA needs to stop wasting time and money on it, put new rules into place and make sure they are adhered to in the future.

There was no terrorist threat and no one was hurt. The sad part is that an innocent child who was just spending time with her father, has probably been scarred by the incident and if her dad ends up losing his job, well, that will make things even worse for her and her sister.

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