Fifth air controller caught sleeping, US schedules to change

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, April 16, 2011 19:46 EDT
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WASHINGTON – THE US Federal Aviation Administration announced on Saturday it is overhauling work rotations of air traffic controllers after yet another controller fell asleep on a midnight shift.

The FAA said it will prohibit ‘scheduling practices that have been identified as those most likely to result in air traffic controller fatigue.’ The changes are to be implemented within days.

The announcement followed the suspension early on Saturday of an air traffic controller who fell asleep on duty during the overnight shift at the control center in Miami.

The unidentified controller did not miss any calls from aircraft, the FAA said, but it was the latest in a string of similar incidents that led to the resignation on Thursday of the FAA’s head air traffic control, Hank Krakowski.

Even President Barack Obama weighed into the fray on Thursday, seeking to reassure Americans that he was on top of the situation. He told ABC News: ‘We’ve got it under control.’ On the latest incident, the FAA said on Saturday that prior to the start of the shift, ‘all controllers were given a briefing on professionalism and the importance of reporting to work fit for duty.’

Unlike most of the other cases, in which controllers nodded off while alone, the Miami tower had 12 controllers on duty and two managers. The incident was reported to a manager by another controller.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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