Airplane boy...

Sharon - posted on 03/03/2010 ( 12 moms have responded )

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I'm not sure how it came to light but it was exposed that a child was allowed to give major commercial airlines jumbo planes directions from a control tower.

There is a huge uproar over this. Frankly I don't see the issue. I'm sure the kid was fed the proper phrases. I wish I could listen to the playback but I can't.

Take your kid to work... if I were an OBGYN, I wouldn't take my child to see a vaginal exam but if I were an ear, nose & throat specialist - sure I would.
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(March 3) -- At New York's JFK airport, directing planes is mere child's play. At least, that's what some air traffic controllers must have been thinking when they allegedly allowed a child to give instructions to pilots from the control tower.

A Boston news station uncovered an audio clip of what is clearly a child's voice giving the all-clear to pilots as they take off and land commercial airplanes on some of the country's busiest runways.

"Jet Blue 171, cleared for takeoff!" the child can be heard telling one pilot.

The boy seems to have made at least five transmissions from the control tower. Adults can be heard on the tape as well, laughing with the under-aged air controller in their midst.

A pilot tells the youngster he's doing an "awesome job." From the air control tower, a male voice suggests a snow day may be to blame. "That's what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school," he says, sounding bemused.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which requires air traffic controllers to be licensed, is investigating and says it's not sure when the youngster was in the tower.

"Pending the outcome of our investigation, the employees involved in this incident are not controlling air traffic," the FAA said in a statement to the New York Daily News. "This behavior is not acceptable and does not demonstrate the kind of professionalism expected from all FAA employees."

The air traffic controllers union told the News that what happened in the tower "is not indicative of the highest professional standards that controllers set for themselves and exceed each and every day in the advancement of aviation safety."


Jim Baker, a retired Delta pilot, told Fox News Boston that "I have never ever heard a small kid in the tower giving instructions for an airplane to take off or cross a runway or any kind of instructions."

John Del Signore of The Gothamist blog wasn't laughing either. "That's almost as funny as the time the air traffic controller was joshing around about barbecuing a cat moments before that fatal plane/helicopter collision over the Hudson," he wrote Wednesday morning.

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12 Comments

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Isobel - posted on 03/05/2010

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I thought air traffic controller was supposed to be the highest stress job there is (has anybody seen Pushing Tin?) I can't believe they even allowed children in, never mind participate.

Kelly - posted on 03/05/2010

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And yes, the pilots know what they are doing, (hopefully) but flying a commercial aircraft is nothing like driving a car. You have limited visibility, and heavily rely on instruments and air traffic controllers, especially while on the ground. Not to mention, each controller is juggling many aircraft at once, at different stages of takeoff, flight, approach, and landing. You probably wouldn't want your hair cut by a 10 yr old, even if their parent was telling them step by step what to do, so why in the heck would you be so lax when its lives on the line? They are just lucky nothing happened.

Dana - posted on 03/04/2010

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The fuss is that the dad would have been distracted by his son being "cute" while he should have been doing an important job.

[deleted account]

I think it was a bit of an overreaction myself. The kid was being told what to say and the pilots know what they're doing. I don't see what all the fuss is about.

Esther - posted on 03/04/2010

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I'm with Kelly & Dana. I have trouble doing my administrative assistant job when my son is in the room. When I work from home, he still goes to daycare because the two don't mix. When he's home (like on a holiday) I charge vacation time and only charge work time for when he's down for his nap. I think it's hugely irresponsible to have a child in the control tower, let alone let him make some of the calls. Instructed or not.

Dana - posted on 03/04/2010

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Wow, I'm kinda shocked at a lot of the responses here. I do think it's WAY out of line. How can you take your job seriously with hundreds of people's lives in your hands when you're coaching your kid on what to say and laughing about how cute he/she is. He did this TWO days in a row, one with his son and the next with his daughter. I'm not saying he should or shouldn't be fired but to act as if it's no big deal, I'm shocked.

Kelly - posted on 03/04/2010

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I think this is a very big deal, and they should be fired. There is a big difference between bringing your kid to work, and allowing your kid to do your job, especially when you have peoples lives in your hands. More than half of airplane crashes / incidents occur during taxi/ takeoff, and final approach / landing. There is NO WAY that a kid should be clearing anything on the runway. Obviously people were amused and laughing on the tape, both pilots and other controllers in the tower. At the very least there was major distraction. JFK is in the top 20 busiest airports in the world.

You could hear laughing and joking on the black box from Aeroflot flight 593 too...... right before the 15 year old at the controls rammed it into the ground and killed everyone on board. He too was getting instructions from his pilot dad, and they were having so much fun apparently that they missed the fact the auto-pilot had been disengaged.

My dad was a pilot for over 30 years, and I flew as a flight attendant for years. I am sorry, but if the general public only knew how many close calls there were at the busy airports, they probably wouldn't want to fly. There are on average, 7 runway incursions a year, and many more "near misses"....... Nothing happened as a result of this JFK incident, but that is in my opinion, pure luck.

[deleted account]

I saw this on the news this morning. They said that the father and his supervisior have both been suspended.

Jocelyn - posted on 03/04/2010

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I don't really see what the uproar is all about. The kid was under supervision and was being told what to say. It was just a fun thing to to for the kid, that really didn't cause any harm.

Lady - posted on 03/04/2010

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As long as everyone knew what was going on then I don't see the problem - my son flew his first plane when he was 9 years old - scared the shit out of him at first but then he started to love it - now of course he wants to be a pilot just like dad - little boys always want to be like their fathers and taking them into work is a great bonding for them. Like I said as long as the pilots knew he was getting the instuctions from a real traffic controller then I don't think there was any real problem here.

Krista - posted on 03/03/2010

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Yeah, I don't think it's that huge an offense. They were obviously telling the kid exactly what to say -- it's not like he was unsupervised in the control booth directing traffic for shits and giggles.

[deleted account]

They played the recording on the news. The kid was obviously being closely supervised. I say give the dad a slap on the wrist, make a policy about not bringing your kids to work, and move on!

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