McCarran air traffic controller becomes 'incapacitated' while on duty

McCarran air traffic controller becomes 'incapacitated' while on duty

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) – An air traffic controller became "incapacitated" while on duty at McCarran International Airport late Wednesday evening.

The FAA released a statement about the incident.

"The FAA is deeply concerned by the incident, is thoroughly investigating what has occurred, and is taking immediate steps to change its overnight shift staffing policies traffic."

Officials did not specify how the employee became incapacitated but that was unresponsive.

The FAA did say the controller's performance was normal when her shift started at 10:06 p.m. and then her performance started to degrade at 11:09 p.m. and became impaired at 11:24 p.m. The controller appeared unresponsive at 11:47 p.m. The other controller on duty returned from a break at 11:50 p.m. and began handling air traffic at 11:54 p.m.

The FAA is said to have made changes to its overnight shift staffing policies.

"The FAA wants to require two controllers to work in the tower on a busy time and traffic levels."

While the FAA reports no safety incidents occurred, some pilots opted not to depart due to the issue.

Rosemary Vassiliadis, Clark County Director of Aviation, released a statement Friday afternoon.

McCarran International Airport has become aware of an incident involving an air traffic controller.

Congresswoman Dina Titus so released a statement about the incident. She is a member of the House Subcommittee on Aviation.

13 Action News spoke with John Nance about this incident. Nance is the aviation analyst for ABC World News.

"We have come to the conclusion that in any major airport, whatever it is day or night, we need a minimum of two people up there," said Nance.

While safety has fallen to a period of time, Nance said there was no real threat to passengers.

"We have a partnership with controllers that is really very strong," said Nance, "we'll substitute whatever is necessary for each other, including finding out who is on approach, who is where, if a controller is not answering."

"I've been briefed on the air traffic control tower at McCarran and awaiting further details. The safety of travelers is paramount and I want to work with the FAA and McCarran.

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