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The Federal Aviation Association will add air traffic controllers to 27 towers after another air-traffic controller fell asleep on the job. This time it was at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada.

After several attempts to contact the air-traffic controller, the pilot of an air ambulance, carrying a critically ill patient, was forced to land at the airport early Wednesday. Federal transportation officials said the controller could not be reached for 16 minutes.

In the last two months, there have been 4 other incidents where an airplane pilot was unable to reach a sleepy air-traffic controller at a U.S. airport, including Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport and Seattle’s Boeing Field-King County International Airport.

The FAA has demanded that additional controllers staff overnight shifts where only one controller works. The National Transportation Safety Board and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have announced investigations of these recent air traffic control incidents.

Southwest Airlines Repairs Cracked Planes
Photo: News photographers huddle around the damaged piece of the Southwest Airlines
flight 812 at NTSB headquarters in Washington (Reuters)

Four Southwest planes, repaired for cracks, will likely return to service by Saturday. Airline officials say the 5th plane with cracks in the skin will be held back for additional, previously schedule maintenance.

Southwest grounded 79 of its older Boeing 737 aircraft for inspections after a hole opened in the roof of a similar plan over Arizona last week, forcing an emergency landing. The defective plane will be flown to a maintenance center for permanent repairs until Boeing determines how to fix the problem.

Boeing has already provided instructions on how to fix the cracked planes, which is usually a 2-day job.

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