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Child Does ‘Air Traffic Control’ At JFK

From the Boston Fox affiliate Fox 25:

Child directs airplanes over radio transmissions at JFK airport

By Ted Daniel

Tuesday, 02 Mar 2010

(FOX 25, myfoxboston.com) – The voice is unmistakably a child’s giving the all-clear to a pilot from the air-traffic control tower at one of the nation’s busiest airports.

Harmless? Or a problem? I think this is one of those stories where people can form their own opinion.

The FAA is certainly taking the matter seriously.

They have confirmed for FOX 25 that the recording we have with a child directing airplanes is an authentic recording from the JFK tower and an investigation is now underway.

The child makes five transmissions and the pilots respond enthusiastically to him.

JFK TOWER: Jet Blue 171 contact departure

PILOT: Over to departure jet blue 171, awesome job.

The child appears to be supervised as a controller explains the reason for the young voice.

JFK TOWER: That’s what you get guys when the kids are out of school. (laugh)

As stressful as it can be for an air traffic controller a little bit of levity can go along way.

But Jim Baker,a retired chief pilot at Delta airlines with forty years of experience, says lives hang on every transmission and this raises safety concerns.

“I have never ever heard a small kid in the tower giving instructions for an airplane to take off or cross a runway or any kind of instructions” says Baker.

JFK is the 6th busiest airport in the country with thousands of planes taking off and landing every day.

The control tower is a highly secure area and the FAA says only licensed controllers are supposed to communicate with planes.

“I am sure the controller is a tremendous controller not a wise move, not a wise move…not in this day and age.”

In a statement released to FOX 25 the FAA says:

"Pending the outcome of our investigation, the employees involved in this incident are not controlling air traffic. This behavior is not acceptable and does not demonstrate the kind of professionalism expected from all FAA employees."

The union that represents air traffic controllers released this statement to us this evening.

"We do not condone this type of behavior in any way, and it is not indicative of the highest professional standards that controllers set for themselves and exceed each and every day in the advancement of aviation safety”.

No word on how long the FAA investigation is expected to take.

This would explain a lot of what goes on at JFK.

Though maybe the security people there are going a little too far to avoid ‘profiling.’

Besides, the kid probably didn’t have his union card yet.

However, we do like it that both in the story and at the bottom of the report the Boston Fox News station has to ask:

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK BELOW. Was this harmless or a problem?

Children directing air traffic?

What could go wrong?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “Child Does ‘Air Traffic Control’ At JFK”

  1. Reality Bytes says:

    My old man used to tell me to go play in traffic all the time. What’s the big deal?

  2. Steve says:

    A regular reader emailed me:

    “Big deal. We have a veritable kid directing the whole frigging country for over a year and no one is investigating that.”

    • Reality Bytes says:

      He does seem a little small for his suit & shoes doesn’t he. Obama of course, not the ATC’s kid.

  3. ManlyDad says:

    Aeroflot tried this once, from the airborne side of the equation. Didn’t work out so well.


  4. canary says:

    Did he have a middle-eastern accent? No excuse in the world, and no doubt violated federal laws for him even to be in the tower. How did he get a security clearance.

  5. saccharin says:

    This was a stunt to promote National Take Your Child To Work Day.

    (Helpful tip: don’t fly on April 22, 2010.)

  6. proreason says:

    I’d take 6th graders over the President and Congress in a heartbeat.

    I’m not kidding.

  7. U NO HOO says:

    Funny stuff…let us move on.

    Can we get back to pummeling Bunning?

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