Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Matter of Control in Manchester

It's always the way: Just when you go to the bathroom, either the phone rings or someone knocks on your door. Or a guy decides he really needs to land his plane:
Two Southwest Airlines flights were forced to circle Manchester-Boston Regional Airport last Friday when the lone air traffic controller had to go to the bathroom.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said another controller was in the tower at the time but was not certified to land the planes, forcing flights from Chicago and Orlando, Fla., to delay their landings by 18 minutes. In addition, a medical flight carrying lungs to a New Jersey airport had its takeoff delayed by what FAA log books referred to as a bathroom break.

Jim Peters, an FAA spokesman, said that the controller followed proper protocols by waiting until traffic was light. Earlier in his shift, the controller handled 60 aircraft operations and put off a break until he had two planes in the air, which were placed in a holding pattern.
I know what you're thinking, but don't blame the controller. Note, in fact, that he held it as long as possible (and haven't we all done that at some point?). In fact, the article goes on to say that the real problem is a shortage of controllers, not this man's performance. (I personally think controllers are cool.)

I'm just grateful that when I slip out for a moment of, eh-hem, "me time," that it doesn't make the national news.

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Blogger Mr. Liberty said...

If the controller had stayed at his post and then allowed the inevitable to flow freely and with great abandon, he would have shorted out the works, out there in the tower.

And then who knows what would have happened?

I do. Planes wouldn't have known where to go, or what to do, and would have probably gone to another airport, leaving this one in shame.


4:08 AM  
Blogger David said...

>...forcing flights from Chicago and
>Orlando, Fla., to delay their landings
>by 18 minutes.

18 minutes?! That's pretty serious...or else he brought along fascinating reading material.

9:47 AM  
Blogger karrie said...


That just seems like such poor planning. Glad nothing tragic happened while the guy was in the water closet.

2:42 PM  

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