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August 14, 2009 - Air Traffic Controllers Suspended After Crash

An air traffic controller who was on the phone when a plane and a helicopter crashed over New York's Hudson River has been suspended, U.S. officials said.

Federal Aviation Administration chief Randy Babbitt said the controller at Teterboro Airport, N.J., and a supervisor have been suspended. The controller was talking to his girlfriend on the phone Saturday at the time of the collision, in which nine people were killed, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.

"While we have no reason to believe at this time that these actions contributed to the accident, this kind of conduct is unacceptable, and we have placed the employees on administrative leave and have begun disciplinary proceedings," the FAA said in a statement.

The supervisor was suspended after FAA officials determined he was not present, as required, at the traffic control station.

Neither the controller nor the supervisor has been identified, the Daily News said.

All three people aboard the plane and six people aboard a Liberty Helicopters craft – the pilot and five Italian tourists – were killed in the crash.

The controller was in radio contact with the aircraft while having a conversation on a separate line with his girlfriend, the Daily News said.

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