In the 1993 film “Groundhog Day,” actor Bill Murray plays a Pittsburgh TV weatherman who wakes up one morning and finds himself having to relive the same day over and over again.
That must be what it’s like to be Randy Babbitt, head of the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA came under blistering criticism last month when two airliners full of passengers could not get clearance to land at Reagan National Airport because the sole air traffic controller on duty at the time had reportedly fallen asleep on the job.
“I am determined to make sure we do not repeat Wednesday’s unacceptable event,” Babbitt said in March, adding that he had ordered “a nationwide review of the air traffic control system to confirm the appropriate backup procedures and equipment are in place and in use.”
Babbitt’s boss, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, went even further, ordering FAA to assign more than one air traffic controller to all airport towers during the overnight shift to avoid a repeat of this embarrassing situation.
Guess what? It happened again.
The lone traffic controller assigned to the graveyard shift at Reno-Tahoe International Airport reportedly fell asleep
Tuesday night, forcing a medical flight with a sick patient on board to get landing instructions from awake FAA controllers in California – the fifth time this has happened so far this year.
After accepting the resignation of air traffic chief Hank Krankowski Thursday morning, Babbitt once again promised to conduct a “top to bottom” review of the nation’s air traffic control system and have more than one controller on duty during overnight shifts
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told Fox News that FAA had assigned two controllers to the midnight shift at Reno-Tahoe, but “went back to one controller several days later after implementing new procedures.”
The “new procedures” obviously didn’t include an alarm clock.