Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Air traffic controllers sleeping on the job

Air-traffic controllers will be given longer breaks between shifts under new anti-fatigue rules announced Sunday, but the nation's Transportation secretary appeared to shut the door on the solution some scientists say would best address the recent spate of sleeping controllers: carefully controlled naps. . . .

Stung by the sixth incident involving a sleeping or unresponsive controller this year — this time at a large facility in Miami early Saturday morning — the Federal Aviation Administration announced that controllers would be given at least nine hours off between shifts instead of the current eight-hour minimum. Controllers also will be prohibited from switching shifts with another employee unless they have had at least nine hours off.


If air traffic controllers are allowed to work with only eight or nine hours between shifts, it's not the employees' fault if they fall asleep on the job. It's the bosses who should be fired.

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