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Bathroom Break Delays Four Flights!

(AP) MANCHESTER, N.H. An air traffic controller's bathroom break delayed the takeoff and landing of four planes at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport last week.

Two Southwest Airlines flights circled the airport for 18 minutes before landing around 8 p.m. Friday.

Two other flights waiting to take off were also delayed because air traffic controller Regan Mack, 42, of Bow, had to go to the bathroom. One of those was a medical flight delivering lungs to New Jersey for a transplant.

"In 16 years, this was by far the most difficult decision I've ever had to make," Mack told the Union Leader. "Walking away from live traffic, that goes against every instinct that's been ingrained in me as an air traffic controller and a professional."

Mack told the paper he had been working for more than two-and-a-half hours without a break. The FAA said the break lasted 12 minutes.

A controller trainee was in the tower at the time, but was not certified to help planes take off and land.

There were no complaints from any of the airlines about the delay.

A Southwest spokesperson told the paper their flights were actually ahead of schedule and still landed early.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters said flights that were delayed taking off could have made up the difference in the air.

"He elected to wait until traffic was very, very light before he took a break," Peters told the Boston Globe.

"This is a staffing issue," Mike Robicheau, regional vice president with the national air traffic controllers union told the Union Leader. "The agency is not staffing the facility with enough certified controllers right now."

The FAA said that's not the case.

"The tower was staffed sufficiently to ensure that any aircraft (landing or taking off) was handled in a safe way," Peters said.

Source: The World Wide Web! - Back to Homepage

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