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Air Traffic Controller leaves post as Caribbean Airlines flight arrives

An Air Traffic Controller (ATC) exited the tower at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport around midnight Friday at the same time a Caribbean Airlines aircraft was preparing to land.

Reports are that the controller was angry that he was not relieved of his eight-hour shift which ended at midnight particularly at a time he was feeling unwell. The young man reportedly left the facility after informing his colleagues that he could not work through the night, a clear breach of the ATC profession if one is not relieved of his/her duty, sources noted.

DemWaves was told that when the young man left the facility, his colleagues scrambled to find someone to take over the shift, even as the Caribbean Airlines 425 flight, which was heading to the CJIA from Trinidad, neared Timehri for landing.

The aircraft was forced to circle the airport during which time a senior controller was scurried up to the tower from another unit to provide landing clearance and instructions to the Caribbean Airlines aircraft. The other unit is usually very busy at nights when there are numerous overflights.

A Caribbean Airlines source said the flight landed about 10 minutes late. The source explained that the plane left Trinidad’s Piarco international Airport a bit early so its scheduled arrival was not affected.

The incident is likely to draw a significant investigation, since air traffic controllers share a substantial depth of responsibility for all aircraft whose position in the air or on the ground , fall under the mandate of the facility.