The Associated Press April 18, 2011, 10:40PM ET

FAA suspends 2 for movie watching while on duty

Another air traffic controller has been suspended, this time for watching a movie when he was supposed to be monitoring aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration said Monday.

While on duty, the controller was watching the 2007 crime thriller "Cleaner," starring Samuel L. Jackson on a DVD player early Sunday morning at a regional radar center in Cleveland that handles high altitude air traffic, FAA said in a statement. The controller's microphone was inadvertently activated, briefly transmitting the movie's soundtrack to all the planes in the airspace that the controller was supposed to be monitoring, the agency said.

Controller's microphone became stuck in the transmit position, preventing him from hearing incoming radio calls or issuing instructions to planes for more than three minutes, FAA said.

A military pilot contacted the FAA about the incident.

FAA has suspended eight controllers and supervisors since late March for allegedly losing contact with aircraft while on duty.

In five of the suspension cases the controllers allegedly fell asleep. In another case, FAA is investigating why two controllers in Lubbock, Texas, were unresponsive to radio calls.

The incidents have shaken FAA officials, made air traffic controllers the butt of late night comedians and raised public jitters about the safety of air travel.


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