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FAA looks into case of boy who managed flights

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Air traffic controllers at John F. Kennedy International Airport are under hot water for allowing a child to direct airplanes out of the airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday it is conducting a full investigation into a Feb. 17 incident where a young boy apparently handled at least five radio transmissions to flights at the airport.

Audio recordings of those transmissions were revealed by a Boston TV station and contain several conversations between nonchalant pilots and the boy.

“JetBlue 171, contact departures,” the boy tells pilots.

“Over to departures, JetBlue 171. Awesome job,” the pilot responded.

The FAA said the boy was the son of a licensed air traffic controller who brought him to work that day. Public schools and most private schools were off that week.

During one part of the recording, someone in the air traffic tower, which can only be accessed by certified FAA professionals, quipped about the boy’s turn at the microphone.

“This is what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school,” the person said.

FAA officials were not laughing and said they have placed the employees involved with the incident on modified duty away from JFK’s air traffic tower.

“This behavior is not acceptable and does not demonstrate the kind of professionalism expected from all FAA employees,” the agency said in a statement.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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