- Florida lawmakers move to wipe corrupt ‘Boss Hogg’ town from map
- N.C. math whiz to unveil secret of March Madness picks
- An appealing offer: Chiquita merges with Fyffes to make world’s largest banana firm
- Amnesty International says Syria guilty of war crimes for food blockade
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: ‘We are going to crush them’
- Adam Lanza’s dad: He would’ve killed me ‘in a heartbeat’
- North Korea holds election: 100% turnout, Kim Jong-un gets — 100% of vote
- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
Scientists: Controllers need naps on the job
Several countries — including France, Germany, Canada and Australia — also permit napping by controllers during breaks in their work shifts, said Peter Gimbrere, who heads the controllers association’s fatigue mitigation effort. Germany even provides controllers sleep rooms with cots, he said.
Sleep scientists long have known that fatigue affects human behavior much like alcohol, slowing reaction times and eroding judgment. People suffering from fatigue sometimes focus on a single task while ignoring other, more urgent needs.
One of the working group’s findings was that the level of fatigue created by several of the shift schedules worked by 70 percent of the FAA’s 15,700 controllers can have an impact on behavior equivalent to a blood-alcohol level of.04, Gimbrere said. That’s half the legal driving limit of .08.
“There is a lot of acute fatigue in the controller work force,” he said.
Controllers are often scheduled for a week of midnight shifts followed by a week of morning shifts and then a week swing shifts, a pattern that sleep scientists say interrupts the body’s natural sleep cycles.
Another common schedule compresses five eight-hour work shifts as close together as possible while still allowing controllers eight hours off in between each shift. The advantage is that controllers then get three days off at the end. But the shift is known as the “rattler” because controllers say it doubles back and bites those who work it.
One recommendation by the working group would require at least nine hours off between shifts instead of the current eight. Another would allow controllers to sleep during the 20-minute to 30-minute breaks they typically receive while working daytime shifts. Now, they can watch TV, play cards, have a snack — but not sleep.
But paying controllers who nap at work may be a tough sell in Congress. One influential lawmaker said building in time to sleep on the job is unacceptable.
“I think that is totally bogus,” Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told the AP. “There are so many professions that have to work long hours. I was greeted this morning by a young surgeon that had been working all night in an ER.”
Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation in Alexandria, Va., and a former air traffic controller, disagreed.
“It’s not outrageous to have people in a safety job rest on duty,” Voss said, citing ER doctors and firefighters who have similar practices.
“What is crazy,” Voss said, “is putting two people onto a shift in a dark room with no noise and telling them to stare out a window and do nothing for eight hours, but to never fall asleep.”
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Investigators puzzle: How does a 777 jetliner just disappear into thin air?
- Russia besieges Crimea as U.S. seeks diplomacy; Putin remains undeterred by Obama's sanctions
- As Crimea falls, Obama takes Key Largo golf vacation, Biden hits Virgin Islands
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- CURL: Today's GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- Adam Lanza's dad: He would've killed me 'in a heartbeat'
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again