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The Associated Press March 23, 2011, 9:09PM ET

DOT secretary orders study of controller staffing

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is directing that two air traffic controllers be on duty at Reagan National Airport late at night following an incident in which two airliners landed without tower clearance because they couldn't reach the lone controller.

LaHood said in a statement he has also ordered the Federal Aviation Administration administrator to study tower staffing at other airports around the country.

An aviation official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the incident, said the controller had fallen asleep. Pilots of the two planes were in contact with controllers at a regional FAA facility about 40 miles away.

Safety officials said controllers at the regional facility were unable to raise anyone at the airport tower by phone.


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