WASHINGTON — Another air traffic controller has been suspended, this time for watching a movie when he was supposed to be monitoring aircraft, the embattled Federal Aviation Administration said Monday.
While on duty, the controller was watching the 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, the FAA said. 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.
The controller's microphone became stuck in the transmit position, preventing him from hearing incoming radio calls or issuing instructions to planes for three minutes, the FAA said.
A military pilot contacted the FAA about the incident.
The 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, the FAA is investigating why two controllers in Lubbock, Texas, were unresponsive to radio calls.
The incidents have shaken FAA officials and raised questions about safety.