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FAA: Controller was on phone during Hudson River crash

Federal aviation officials say the conduct of two air traffic controllers was unacceptable, even though it probably had nothing to do with a deadly in-flight collision over the Hudson River.

Emergency workers are seen looking for debris in the Hudson River Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009, after a small plane collided with a tour helicopter carrying about a half-dozen people sending debris into the river and onto the New Jersey waterfront. (AP Photo/Robert Mecea)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal aviation officials say the conduct of two air traffic controllers was unacceptable, even though it probably had nothing to do with a deadly in-flight collision over the Hudson River.

The Federal Aviation Administration says in a statement that a controller at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and his supervisor have been placed on administrative leave. The FAA says the controller was on a personal phone call and the supervisor was out of the building.

Air traffic controllers are expected to be alert at all times while on duty and typically are given about a 15-minute break roughly every two hours for that reason.

The FAA's action came as an amateur video of the crash surfaced. The video shows a single-engine plane apparently climbing and turning as it clips a tour helicopter's rotor blades, shearing off the plane's wing. Both aircraft fall toward the water.

Nine people died.


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