Child’s Play

Taking your children to work usually involves observing not doing.

An air traffic controller at one of the nation’s busiest airport was suspended after his young son was permitted to give radio instructions to pilots. The controller at Kennedy Airport brought his daughter into the tower the next night. The man’s daughter communicated with pilots twice.

LiveATC founder Dave Pascoe said: “I absolutely believe that this is being blown out of proportion. This is just a completely controlled situation. A child was being told exactly what to say.” (listen to the recorded ATC exchange here)

Controlled, yes, but probably not a great idea during one of the busier times in the tower. Distractions can have consequences in this line of work. Six months ago a controller was placed on leave after his negligence led to a fatal crash between a helicopter and plane over the Hudson River. He was recorded joking on the phone with his girlfriend and failed to separate the aircraft. While I think it admirable that someone show their son or daughter what they do for a living, it’s not one of the places with a relaxed, laid back atmosphere. There’s too much at stake. I wouldn’t want an eight year old helping Dad or Mom on the flight deck for the same reason. Also, the image of a kid at the microphone isn’t likely to inspire confidence among the flying public.

Or maybe I should just lighten up. Get the kids to join in for the next conference call with company headquarters for laughs. Let me know how that works out for you.


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