Officials said the controller, a woman, was placed on administrative leave after a night shift last week. She was the only controller on duty at the time.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the controller had given incorrect instructions to landing pilots and others reported she’d exhibited slurred speech.
She is heard on an audio recording saying, “landing at possible … into Las Vegas,” before an arriving pilot asks the control tower, “Is there somebody else that knows what they’re doing?”
A short time later, a voice in the tower said, “everybody, just stand by. I’m taking over now.”
The FAA said Friday the controller began her shift on Wednesday at 10 p.m., and her performance had degraded about an hour later and she was impaired within 30 minutes after that.
An FAA statement said “no safety events occurred during this incident” and “the controller is currently restricted from working air traffic.”
The FAA requires two controllers on duty during peak times at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.
Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada was briefed on the investigation since she is a member of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, KVVU-TV reported.
“I’ve been briefed on the incident that occurred at the air traffic control tower at McCarran and am awaiting further details, but I find the initial reports deeply disturbing,” Titus said in a statement. “The safety of travelers is of paramount concern and I will work the FAA and McCarran as this investigation continues to unfold.”