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Randy Babbitt, FAA Chief, Orders New Procedures For Air Traffic Controllers

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Joan Lowy, Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The nation's top aviation official says he's ordered new procedures for controllers to prevent a repeat of an incident this week in which two airliners landed without assistance because the only controller on duty was asleep.

Federal Aviation Administration chief Randy Babbitt said Friday that he has directed controllers at regional radar facilities to contact the towers of airports where there is only one controller on duty at night before sending planes on for landings.

Babbitt also said regional controllers have been told that if no controller can be raised at the airport, they must offer pilots the option of diverting to another airport.

Safety investigators are investigating the incident at Reagan National Airport near Washington in which planes with a combined 165 people on board landed without aid.

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