Child directs flight traffic at JFK

When an air traffic controller’s son had the day off school, he was brought to work – into the control tower at one of the busiest airports in the world. The FAA is now investigating.

A local TV station in Boston discovered FAA audio transmissions in which a young child is heard communicating with pilots, and in some cases even giving them a “cleared for takeoff” command.

The boy made five transmissions throughout the day. During a back-and-forth with the pilot of a JetBlue flight bound for Sacramento, California, a man’s voice came on talking about the boy in the control tower, saying, “That’s what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school.”

The New York City area was pounded by a winter storm last week, but airports remained open. This incident appears to have occurred because an air traffic controller’s son had a snow day.

Pilots heard on the transmissions seemed to have gotten a kick out of the little tyke giving them directions, but not everyone is so amused. Only licensed air traffic controllers have the authority to talk over ATC airwaves. This incident is an enormous breach of agency regulations.

Accordingly, the FAA has launched an investigation into the incident and has released the following statement:

“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.”

There were no air traffic or departure problems linked to the unauthorized ATC transmissions.