A parent doing a solo run of take your child to work day is serious trouble after the FAA got wind of his kid directing planes from the control tower at one of the nation’s busiest airports.
The incident happened last month, during a week-long break for New York City schools, when a child apparently accompanied his father to work in the control tower at JFK airport. According to a statement released by the FAA and published by MSNBC, “”This behavior is not acceptable and does not demonstrate the kind of professionalism expected from all FAA employees.”
Recordings from the incident that surfaced on the internet make it clear the dad was very aware that his boy was giving the OK for take-off – he even follows it up in his adult voice with another all clear, followed by a joke “Here’s what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school.”
One pilot laughs, even noting, “wish I could bring my kid to work.”
Not surprisingly, the folks at the FAA aren’t laughing. Tower officials have been suspended pending an investigation.
As parents, it’s hard not to feel like that pilot, wishing we could bring our kids to work. I’ve even been lucky enough in a number of situations to do it. But that was working as a reporter – with the permission of my boss – where I was interviewing farmers and taking photos of school kids.
I wasn’t responsible for hundreds of lives and giant million dollar aircraft. Or working a job where the Bureau of Labor Statistics says, “Total concentration is required to keep track of several planes at the same time and to make certain that all pilots receive correct instructions.”
This isn’t the first incident of its kind. Parents have let kids show up behind the wheel of city buses and drive subway trains. These are the sorts of things where other people’s lives are at stake, places where fun and games aren’t just unacceptable but extremely dangerous.
Dad may have been “right there” when his kid was on the radio with the pilots, but should something have gone wrong, he would have had to wrest the control out of the hands of a child. In a job where seconds count, that second of taking the control back could have changed the course of hundreds of lives. Sort of takes the fun out of it, doesn’t it?
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