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US air traffic chief quits job

The head of the US air traffic control agency has quit following disclosures that controllers have been sleeping on the job.

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement that Hank Krakowski, head of the agency's Air Traffic Organisation, has submitted his resignation.

FAA's chief counsel, David Grizzle, will take over while the agency searches for a replacement.

Babbitt said he is conducting a "top to bottom" review of the FAA's air traffic system.

He said recent disclosures of "unprofessional conduct on the part of a few individuals" have rightly caused the travelling public to question the system.

Earlier, a US air traffic controller was suspended after being asleep while a medical flight was landing in Nevada.

It is the fifth lapse this year among controllers at the nation's airports. Four of the incidents involved sleeping controllers.

The FAA announced it was immediately putting a second controller on the midnight shift at 26 airports and a radar facility around the country that currently have only one overnight person.

"I am totally outraged by these incidents. This is absolutely unacceptable," transportation secretary Ray LaHood said. "The American public trusts us to run a safe system. Safety is our number one priority and I am committed to working 24/7 until these problems are corrected."

The controller at Reno-Tahoe International Airport was out of communication for about 16 minutes when the aircraft carrying at least three people was landing about 2am local time on Wednesday, the FAA said. No injuries were reported.

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