The air traffic supervisor who fell asleep early Wednesday at Reagan National Airport, forcing two planes to land on their own, was suspended yesterday. Federal officials say the veteran controller was also given a drug test, although the FAA will not confirm the testing or the results. The Washington Post reports that when the supervisor first returned to the radio after his nap, he did give a reason for his silence, telling one pilot it was due to a "stuck mike."
Normally in the case of such a radio failure, the controller would use the tower's light system, says a source—and this supervisor did not use that system. The NTSB initiated a formal investigation yesterday, and the House Transportation Committee will also conduct a formal review of this and other "recent mishaps," says the committee's chairman. The supervisor, who has worked as a controller since 1990, told NTSB investigators he was on his fourth consecutive overnight shift when he fell asleep. (Read more NTSB stories.)