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38 Palmdale Controllers Barred by FAA--Union

August 22, 1986|Associated Press

PALMDALE, Calif. — Officials investigating alleged drug use by air traffic controllers at a regional center here have ordered 38 controllers off their radar screens, union officials said today.

The allegations stem from a sheriff's raid on a party attended by controllers about a month ago, said John Thornton, who is with a union trying to organize controllers nationwide.

The union hasn't heard if the Federal Aviation Administration suspects the controllers of using drugs on duty, Thornton said in a telephone interview from the Washington headquarters of the National Air Traffic Controllers Assn.

FAA officials refused to discuss the investigation, deferring all questions to a news conference scheduled late today.

The investigation began with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department but was handed over to the FAA, Deputy Jim Bauder said.

The controllers are among about 140 who work at the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center, which directs flights between airports in a wide area stretching from Bakersfield 225 miles south to the Mexican border and into Nevada and Arizona. Palmdale is at the edge of the Mojave Desert, 40 miles north of Los Angeles.

Thornton said that six controllers were put on desk duty Thursday and that the rest of those under investigation were ordered removed from control duties today. They were to be given urinalysis tests for drug use and face possible dismissal, he said.

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