Spanish air traffic controllers in trouble for retirement message

Sept. 16, 2013 at 3:36 PM

MADRID, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Five air traffic controllers in Spain are facing discipline for broadcasting a special message to a retiring pilot over a dedicated radio frequency.

The Spanish Airports and Air Navigation Association said the air traffic controllers are facing disciplinary action for broadcasting a message Aug. 17 to retiring pilot Francisco Ubet as he prepared to land at Madrid's Barajas airport, TheLocal.es reported Monday.

The 35-second message celebrated Ubet's career to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne."

The air traffic controllers' human resources department said using the air traffic control radio frequency for the message was a violation of the rules.

However, the Union of Air traffic Controllers said special retirement messages for pilots are traditional and do not put passengers at risk. The union is calling for the punishments to be canceled and pilots are being asked to send supportive messages over the radio on approaching the airport.

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