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Boise air traffic controller who couldn’t be reached fell asleep

Police officers who entered the Boise Airport air traffic control tower after pilots could not reach controllers by radio on Nov. 19 found that one controller had fallen asleep and a second one had left the tower and smelled of marijuana, according to reports released Friday afternoon by the Boise Police Department. ( More...

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Frank DeLeon 41
Standby for a harsh statement from a retired air traffic controller: These two "controllers" are losers and should be fired. But in today's FAA I know that'll never happen. They exhibited no pride in their profession, and one of them even considered the fact that his partner wasn't answering the phone as, "no big deal". Yes, I know my opinion will be in the minority and I acknowledge that I am a proud old dinosaur.
Tom Bruce 13
me too, the idea of having 2 work the graveyard is to avoid these situations... as below... used to work alone on those cold quiet nights
ken young 4
My brother was an ATC in the Navy. Adak was his last duty station....Now THAT is cold and quiet...
sparkie624 18
I agree 100%, They should not only be fired, but the one under influence should be turned over to the authorities for Prosecution. For starters, 1 count Endangerment to Human Life for each sole on board who could not contact the tower! I do not know who down voted this, but our ATC needs to be held to the same standards as our crews in the Pointy End of the A/C.
Tim Duggan 4
Frank, well said. I'm retired airline, and have worked with many, many professional ATC employees over the radio, and even met a few (back before 2001), when they would jump-seat on observation flights. Post 9/11 that program was stopped...and it's a shame. Pilots and ATC professionals should know how best to work long as the professionalism remains, of course....knowing each others' pressures and responsibilities is a start to understanding....
FWIW, it says both of them passed a drug test. Since those things can usually pick up someone having used pot for the past month or so, I'm going to reason that while the controller in question may not have been smoking himself, it certainly seems he may have been in the company of those who were right before he came in, which still makes me question his judgement given his responsibility.

As to everyone who is coming down on the guy who dozed off, I welcome anyone to work these rotating shifts for a year and see what it does to you. You grow accustomed to it, but you never adjust to it. You just take it for granted that you're going to be tired on your midshift after 3-4 hours and try to do your best to not nod off. But that's why we have two people in the area all the time, to guard against that occurrence. It has been my understanding that towers were supposed to operate the same way, so my guess is that the one who pulled up smelling of pot was supposed to have been at the facility the whole time, he may be facing discipline, clean drug test or not.
James Simms 2
Similar problem in the rail industry where engineer's & conductor's are on for twelve & off eight, on for twelve, off for eight, etc..... That's not saying there's eight hours of sleep but eight hours off duty. Throw in weird hours & sleeping in strange beds not @ home, trying to decipher signals staring into a blinding (usually morning) sun after eight hours of fitful sleep...Rail crews falling asleep is the primary cause of fatal head on collisions making the nightly news.
I support that. Unfit for their responsibility
..I was a controller at 18 was more responsible.
joel wiley 4
Still waiting for the harsh statement. The subject staff hiring history might be of interest. Are they recent hires, products of the new FAA hiring policies that may not discriminate on the basis of ability? Have they been in the system for a while and shuffled off to where they may cause less damage? The FAA investigation report should make interesting reading.
ATCguy1 1
You're right. NATCA will step in and nothing will happen. Unbelievable.
Pa Thomas 8
Smelled of dope but passed a drug test? I have serious doubts about the BOI police report.
James Carlson 1
Both positive and negative results on those tests have problems. For some of the rather bleak state of the art, check out this:

There's a sad lack of science in some areas.
Peter Cooper 7
The guys in the Control Tower are there for a reason, and that's to control the movement of aircraft, both in the air and on the ground at or near the airfield where they work. There's no excuse for sleeping on the job, let alone allegedly using a controlled substance. Frank, you might be a proud old dinosaur, but I'd rather fly into your airport. By the way Sparkie, there's probably twice as many soles as people on the plane. i think you mean " souls ". Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to you two and all the other Flightaware members out there.
sparkie624 1
Ugh... Good catch... You are exactly right... But now that I think about it...For that Charge they would probably use Souls, but for a Drug related Incident and Looking back, I would like to see him charged for each "Soles" On board.... :) Good catch, My Bad! LOL!
joel wiley 2
Prosecutors tend to pile on charges in hopes something will stick or to encourage a plea bargain. Using soles over souls would double the charge count! You may have started something <not necessarily aviation related>.
sparkie624 3
LOL... I love it... Just imagine how many soles could be lost in an accident. I mean really, most of those shoes would be worthless after an even like that. And if there are a lot of Ladies (Go a head and flame me) there may be 6 or 7 pairs for each passenger :)
SFOBro 1
After an even like that? Clean hands bro, clean hands.
joel wiley 1
Some pax with two soles but three heels- have two and are one!
James Simms 1
And that's if they don't crash into an unoccupied building. Add more charges if there had been fatalities on the ground, also.
Gary Butt 2
It comes down to the controlling body in the end, I have worked shift in the past,(not in this industry) the schedules have to be structured to give the appropriate rest periods to the workers, it is a tough ask. Easy to work a 9 to 5 and point the finger. No sympathy for the drug offender though.
Hate to see these two give the ATC profession such a black eye. My son is a Air Traffic Controller and a pilot/CFI with instrument and multiengine ratings. I have never witnessed when flying with him or when listening to him when he is in the tower/radar to be unprofessional. When it comes to flying or work he is 100% all business. But at an early age of 14 our neighbor who is a airline pilot, with over 20,000 hours, took him under his wing so to speak and taught him the no nonsense approach to flying. So I truly believe if your "teachers" are professional, no nonsense you will be to.
AWAAlum 2
I gotta say, I'm a little jealous of how soundly that guy sleeps.
One lies and the other swears to it.
joel wiley 1
Unless the one was sleep upright, they both were lying.
Tom Bruce 2
used to pull graveyard shifts once a week in tower.. one man operation at the time... routinely slept but turned volume on all devices to high...... never missed a call... but...probably not the smartest thing I did... was a routine practice at our tower...
Jerry Lane 1
oh wow...hope they were fired..
sparkie624 1
I wish I could say I was surprised, but it seems like every industry is getting more lax on different things. I hope this sends wake up calls to others that this is not an acceptable practice for either controller. I sense that these 2 will soon see the wrongful ways that they have taken.
Joseph Cooney 2
Given the protections offered to ATCs in Federal Labor law and negotiated contracts I doubt there will be much (if any) long term penalties applied.
SFOBro 0
Hold on, let me just send this text, watch this video and check my email real quick.
Anybody wonder why things are the way they are?
Joseph Cooney 1
Wonderful.... Certainly inspires confidence in the system.
Highflyer1950 1
Age old problem. Little used airport at night, one controller, bored. Air carrier ops have a requirement for CFR to be available, private ops. not so much. Used to fly in and out of a tower controlled airport, VFR and IFR, night and day. Tower ops limited hours and outside them you just announce intentions on the MF, go ahead shoot the approach and land. If the w/x was down to minimums you already had your missed approach instructions from the app controller.
T Economou -1
This Marijuana thing is just the beginning...since all the recent recreational Marijuana approvals by so many jurisdictions.
James Carlson 1
*shrug* As if it's substantially different from alcohol or ordinary medication.
SFOBro 2
Ah the holier than thou gang of drinkers, yeah? Put Snoop behind the wheel, before you trust someone drinking off another hangover. The laws about recreational use of anything are moot here. We're talking about people being ON THE JOB. As James Carlson says, it's the same as alcohol and in many cases even "less bad" than what Big Pharm is shoving in us.
T Economou -3
I'm impressed you shrug at the fact that MJ use impairs IQ, inhibits cognitive development, and development of unborn whose pregnant mother is using...all just a few of the established reasons the federal government just (again) refused to remove it from its Class I drug classification.
bentwing60 2
I'm impressed you have so little ability to follow the money that is the "war on drugs", a simple "raison d'etre"!
joel wiley 2
Where are the peer-reviewed studies backing up your 'facts'- or are they assertions? Until recently they have blocked any studies on the subject. That is changing albeit slowly, as evidenced by the recent study on THC effect on seizures at the U of Alabama. The effects you mention are also well documented with alcohol. Just saying.
SFOBro 2
You're in the wrong forum T Economou, and I can assure you of one thing, you won't be able to hold your own IN the correct forum. You should be more concerned with Fluoride if you want to talk about damage to our IQ. You can choose to not drink alcohol, or consume marijuana, but unless you live in the middle of nowhere and are on a well, you can NOT avoid Fluoride which even China has outlawed, and is kind enough to send to the U.S.

An ATC shouldn't be "on" ANYTHING that will impair their impact in the tower.
If it's prescribed meds, then that's tough. Find something else to do.
so much for legalizing marijuana.

[This poster has been suspended.]

Still just as irritating and condescending -- "Let me explain. Airplanes have two-way radios," even though you are using an alias and have dropped "Esq."
Hi Wilbur, I don't know too much Spainish, but isn't NICHT German?

[This poster has been suspended.]

btweston 8
I also know everything. Want to hang out sometime?
WeatherWise 8
Esquire drinks alone.
WeatherWise 5
Give it up, Peter. You created the animosity toward you, yet you still try to "defend yourself" against this "nest" of "aviation enthusiasts" with your alias. Go away. (Oh, did I use enough quotation marks?)
SFOBro 2
Can I quote you on that?
WeatherWise 2
Only if you use EXTRA quotation marks.
linbb 0
At a tower controlled airport how would you handle it? Just keep burning right on in?
Not a real good idea as you have no way of knowing what has taken place. Call ATC and have them dispatch the cops, also have them call the tower and see if that wakes anyone up. But unless fuel was a problem would not land until I could contact someone.

[This poster has been suspended.]

ToddBaldwin3 2
That's a good consideration, but you don't know what might have happened. The controller might have merely fallen asleep, or he or she might have slipped and hit his head on the console. By calling the local authorities, you might be saving his or her life.
Tom MacKinnon -6
Time to privatize for so many reasons...
Having a wet dream about Ronald Reagan


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