Federal officials on Wednesday identified Sacramento International Airport as one of 26 airports nationwide where they will immediately assign a second controller to the overnight shift.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt announced the move after a medical flight carrying a patient landed at Reno-Tahoe International early Wednesday without assistance from the airport tower.
The FAA said in a news release that the lone controller on duty fell asleep and was out of communication for about 16 minutes. The controller, who was not identified, was suspended pending an investigation.
The Reno event followed similar incidents in recent weeks in which air-traffic controllers either fell asleep or could not be reached to handle flights.
"I am totally outraged by these incidents. This is unacceptable," LaHood said in a statement released by the FAA.
FAA Administrator Babbitt said his agency "cannot and will not tolerate sleeping on the job."
The officials said they planned to add a second air traffic controller right away on midnight shifts at airports including Reno, Sacramento, San Diego and Burbank.
FAA officials described other incidents that prompted the changes:
On Monday, a controller at Boeing Field-King County International Airport in Seattle fell asleep during a morning shift. The controller was monitoring local traffic while two other controllers worked arriving and departing flight, the FAA said in a statement.
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