The FAA says a controller brought children to work on two occasions last month -- on Feb. 16th and 17th -- and allowed them to talk to pilots. The controller and a supervisor have since been suspended.
"Pending the outcome of our investigation, the employees involved in this incident are not controlling air traffic," the FAA said in a statement. "This behavior is not acceptable and does not demonstrate the kind of professionalism expected from all FAA employees." The agency declined to comment beyond the statement.
The recordings — made during a weeklong winter break for many New York schoolchildren — were posted last month on a Web site for air traffic control-listening aficionados.
In audio recordings captured by www.liveatc.net, the young kid could be heard clearing planes for take off and landing. At one point the child even has fun with an Air Mexico flight, saying, "Adios." (listen to the entire exchange above or here)
The adult controller accompanying the child, and the controller's supervisor have both been suspended while authorities investigate. Neither employee has been identified and the child's age has not been revealed.
Below is a transcript of an excerpt of the audio recordings as the child talks to different pilots:
Child: "171 cleared for take off."
Pilot: "Clear for take off JetBlue 171"
Child: "Let's see your Air Mexico 403 Kennedy, runway through left position and hold."
Pilot: "Going to hold Air Mexico 403."
Unknown: "This is what you get guys when the kids are out of school."
Unknown: "Wish I could bring my kid to work."
Child: "JetBlue 171 contact departure."
Unknown: "Over to departure JetBlue 171, awesome job."
Child: "03 clear for take off."
Early this morning, Dough Church with the Air Traffic Controllers' National Union released a statement saying, "We do not condone this type of behavior in any way. It 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."