The Federal Aviation Administration admitted this week that an air traffic controller was removed from his position after he failed an alcohol test. The controller has not been charged with a federal crime, and it’s likely they will be given the opportunity to work again.
The Colorado employee was determined to be under the influence on July 5 during a random test, one which is customary of FAA employees who work in a Testing Designated Position (TDP). A TDP, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, is a position which is subject to arbitrary drug and alcohol testing because it involves “critical safety, or security sensitive responsibilities.” Individuals employed in these positions are prohibited from reporting for or remaining on duty with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding .04. CNN reports that the Colorado employee was tested as surpassing the allowable alcohol concentration limits more than six hours into his eight hour shift.
The controller was an employee of the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center in Longmont, Co. It is also referred to as The Denver Center and is responsible for managing air traffic over several states. Because no incidents involving aircraft were involved, the employee has not met federal criminal charges. He was, however made to choose to either immediately resign his post, or enter into a rehabilitation program. He chose the latter. As such, he may eventually return to work.
“We take our responsibility of ensuring aviation safety very seriously. That includes acting professionally in all that we do,” Paul Rinaldo, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said in a statement. “Thus, this incident is deeply troubling.”