Ben Sliney

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Benedict L. Sliney
Born1945 (age 76–77)
Alma materDowling College (BS)
St. John's University School of Law (JD)
OccupationAir traffic controller and lawyer
Known forFAA National Operations Manager on September 11, 2001 who ordered closure of U.S. air space.
SpouseIrene Lynch Ahern[1]

Benedict L. Sliney (born 1945)[2][3] is an American retired lawyer, air traffic controller, and former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Operations Manager. His first day in this position was on September 11, 2001, and he was responsible for ordering a National Ground Stop across United States airspace in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.[4]

Actions on September 11, 2001[edit]

After two planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon, Sliney gave the order to land every plane in the air over the US at the time (implementing the SCATANA plan), effectively shutting down US airspace. There were roughly 4,200 aircraft in flight.[4] This was an unprecedented act, which the 9/11 Commission later denoted as an important and decisive moment in that morning's chaos. While Sliney made the decision on his own initiative, he had the advice of an experienced staff of air traffic controllers and traffic managers.[citation needed]

Although it was his first day in charge, Sliney had an over 25-year background in air traffic and management in the FAA. He had held various positions as an air traffic controller, first line supervisor at several major facilities, and Operations Manager and Traffic Management Officer at New York TRACON. He also held positions as Traffic Management Specialist, National Operations Manager, Tactical Operations Manager at the Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC) and had Regional office experience as Manager, Airspace and Procedures Branch, Eastern Region.[citation needed]

Sliney later left the FAA to practice law.[2][clarification needed]

Personal life[edit]

Sliney is married to Irene Lynch Ahern.[1] As of 2018, he is retired and lives in Sandwich, Massachusetts.[3]

Portrayals in films and television[edit]

Sliney was initially involved in the 2006 film United 93 in an advisory role. He was then cast in a small role as an air traffic controller. Later, the film's writer and director, Paul Greengrass, offered him the opportunity to play himself, which he accepted.[5] Sliney also had a small role in Greengrass's 2010 film Green Zone. He also took part in the documentary Seconds from Disaster.[6]


  1. ^ a b "United States Naval Academy Leadership Conference Benjamin Sliney". 2013. Archived from the original on September 10, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Faber, Judy (April 25, 2006). "FAA Manager Relives Events Of Sept. 11". CBS News. Associated Press. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Hunter, Karen B. (January 11, 2018). "The Man In Charge Of The Skies Remembers 9/11". The Sandwich Enterprise. Retrieved August 26, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Part I: Terror attacks brought drastic decision: Clear the skies". USA Today. August 12, 2002. Archived from the original on September 14, 2013. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  5. ^ Williams, Andrew (October 4, 2006). "60 Seconds: Ben Sliney". Metro online. London: Associated Northcliffe Digital. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
  6. ^ "About Seconds from Disaster: 9/11". Nat Geo TV. NGC Europe Limited. Retrieved September 22, 2018.

External links[edit]