Skip to comments.Sleeping Air Traffic Controllers and the Battle for the Shop Floor
Posted on 04/20/2011 11:17:59 AM PDT by Corky Boyd
At Washington Reagan National Airport in late March, a sleeping controller failed to respond to two airliners seeking to land shortly after midnight. The resulting publicity broke the silence on a long festering problem between the FAA and the air controllers union MATCA. And that is there has been a culture of sleeping on the job. It is banned by long existent regulations, but ignored by the controllers especially on the midnight shift. This is now the battle for control of the shop floor....
"It has been an open secret in the FAA dating to at least the early 1990s that controllers sometimes sleep on the job .
Much more common is taking a nap on purpose, they said. On midnight shifts, one controller will work two positions while the other one sleeps and then they switch off, controllers said. The unsanctioned arrangements sometimes allow controllers to sleep as much as three hours or four hours out of an eight-hour shift, they said.
The FAA does not allow controllers to sleep at work, even during breaks. Controllers who are caught can be suspended or fired. But at many air traffic facilities the sleeping swaps are tolerated as long as they don't affect safety, controllers said.
'It has always been a problem,' said former controller Rick Perl, who retired last year.
In 1991, a Denver television station caught controllers leaving a regional radar center during midnight shifts to sleep in their cars, sometimes for as long as five hours."...
(Excerpt) Read more at islandturtle.blogspot.com ...
Seems like ATCs at night could be replaced by expert systems and remote video watchers.
Unions have over stretched their power. Time to return to good work for good pay. No excuses.
The unions have corrupted their original necessary reforms to a dangerous, low quality of work in many, many professions.
Time to change.
Remember how the GIs can always slip up behind the German guard and cut his throat without even a gurgle? Well, the German movies had their guys slipping up behind our guys and doing the same.
Even when your life is on the line, and you are intently staring off into the darkness trying to see something important, your attention can wander just that little bit that lets the enemy slip in and kill you.
Here's how guard is. I was standing there inside the guard shack out at the edge of the airfield and the German shephard came by with his sheep and nearly woke me up. "Baa, baa, baa, baa, baa" they went ~ for hours. As fast as I'd wake up the sheep would put me to sleep, and all the time there was this incessant, strangely melodic but yet nightmarish "baa, baa, baa, baa, baa, baa, baa" and then the sheep broke into the guard shack.
They were standing on each other's backs and clustering up against the roof of the shack trying to force open the door at the top (which would only open out), and it was breaking and splintering.
Was I asleep, or was I awake? Suddenly the shephard came bounding across the field toward his sheep ~ he'd been asleep, so he told me, over the way under some bushes and had lost trak of the sheep. "Schafe bringen einen Mann zu schlafen" he said, with, of course, some extra stuff they always put into German spoken in a Swabian accent! Spit just every where.
Well, enough about my adventure with the sheep, but I've been on boring jobs staring into the great void, and there it is.
Why am I not surprised that air traffic controllers all alone up above the traffic noise, with nothing to look at but vacant darkness, with no music or news shows, not even Midnight "talkers", would be driven to sleep!
Let the military administer discipline for controllers caught sleeping on duty.
UCMJ Article 113 Any sentinel or look-out who is found drunk or sleeping upon his post, or leaves it before he is regularly relieved, shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, by if the offense is committed at any other time, by such punishment other than death as court-martial may direct.
My guess is that the problems with sleeping controllers and back-to-back schedules goes directly to the union and seniority. The senior controllers get to set their own schedules and time off first and the more junior controllers are left with shifts that butt up against each other and leave little real time for sleep. Unions don’t care about safety, just as long is seniority and its perks are maintained.
FUBO & FAD
This is a failure of management (hard to believe in a government agency, huh?)
At first, I thought that it was an issue with the controllers themselves, that anyone working “the night shift” should know they need to get enough rest for their shifts. There was no reason for them to be tired on the job, and they should have been fired.
Then it came out that the problem was with scheduling. Rather than having a permanent “night shift,” you’ve got management allowing controllers to schedule multiple shifts with only 8 hours between them... Figure in travel time, unwinding from a stressful shift, eat, shower, change clothes, and then back to work, that 8 hours probably works out to about 4 or 5 hours of rest, if they’re lucky.
No, the blame for this problem needs to be placed squarely on the shoulders of management for allowing that sort of scheduling.
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