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Air traffic controller suspended for watching movie on the job

FAA  control tower at Reagan National Airport
Air traffic controller suspended for watching movie on the job AP Photo/Cliff Owen

(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - An air traffic controller has been suspended for watching a movie when he was supposed to be monitoring aircraft, adding to the Federal Aviation Administration's embarrassment following at least five cases of controllers sleeping on the job.

In the latest incident, the controller was watching a movie on a DVD player early Sunday morning while on duty at a regional radar center in Oberlin, Ohio outside of Cleveland that handles high-altitude air traffic, the FAA said in a statement Monday.

The controller's microphone was inadvertently activated, transmitting the audio of "Cleaner," a crime thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson, for more than three minutes to all the planes in the airspace that the controller was supposed to be monitoring, said the FAA.

The controller's microphone became stuck in the transmit position, preventing him from hearing incoming radio calls or issuing instructions to planes during the incident, the agency said.

The controller was alerted to what happened when he was contacted by a military pilot.

In addition to the controller, the FAA also has suspended a manager at the Oberlin center.

In all, the FAA has suspended nine controllers and supervisors since late March. In five of the cases the controllers allegedly fell asleep.

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