Air-traffic controllers in the New York area slept on the job, watched movies on duty, left work early and repeatedly violated safety rules, a U.S. investigative agency told the White House and Congress today.

Controllers at the facility that monitors traffic in a radius of about 50 miles around New York also used “careless and casual language” in communications with pilots, leading to at least one serious incident of planes getting too close, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which investigates whistle-blower complaints, said today in a letter.

The special counsel, in detailing that and six other misconduct allegations involving aviation, said the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation repeatedly have failed to address safety concerns.

Among the other substantiated complaints, the special counsel said, is that planes departing Teterboro Airport in New Jersey routinely got too close to jets flying to Newark Liberty International Airport, and Delta Air Lines Inc. over several years didn’t comply with U.S. safety rules on fuel tank and wiring systems.


In the New York air-traffic facility, supervisors were replaced and disciplinary action was taken against three managers in 2011, according to the letter.

Ashley Black, a spokeswoman for Delta, didn’t immediately comment.

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