Sleeping ATC's

Were the air traffic controllers caught sleeping employed by the government or private contractors?

They were all FAA employees.

jmcmanna, you’re a controller, right? What do you think about the two main changes FAA has initiated?
– Two controllers on graveyard shift. They are more likely to keep each other awake, and each can backstop the other.
– Review scheduling for root causes of fatigue. The 2-2-1 schedule sounds like it’s personally better for those who can handle 8 hr turnarounds; but for many others, it’s a recipe for fatigue and somewhere between challenging and dangerous. How many controllers would actually like to keep it this way, and is it defendable?

My view (from the outside) is that since this hit the news and became a crisis, the FAA so far has jumped the right way – a sure-fire improvement and a focus on the root cause. I’m interested to see if you and others agree.

I still think that at least some of those 27 towers probably don’t need 24 hour coverage anyway. Treat them like the other 12,000 airports around the country from midnight to 6AM.

The one nailed over the last few days in Miami - 12 controllers were working plus two supervisors, one found another sleeping - and turned him in!!! … 50088.html


What does the “27” mean?

There are only 27 towers staffed 24 hours a day? Or 27 have one person during the overnight shift?

Just curious. Thanks.

27 is the number of 24 hour towers that they are increasing staffing from 1 person to 2 on the mid-shift.


I love how the FAA refuses to take the advice of every expert group that has studied the problem of controller fatigue - all of which unilaterally recommend allowing controllers to take naps on their breaks - and instead institutes the asinine policy of an extra hour between shifts, as if an extra hour of being home at home on a saturday afternoon is going to do anything to alleviate controller fatigue. “No controller will get paid to sleep on my watch.” What a frickin joke. The ineptitude and idiocy is astounding.

I apologize for the delay in responding. I am a controller for the FAA, yes.

Two controllers on mids is a good idea for the reason you stated . . . redundancy is a good thing.

They now require 9 hours off between shifts, which I personally think is a good thing, but it has created a scheduling nightmare at a lot of the bigger air traffic facilities which are already short staffed. Lots of taxpayer-funded overtime till that gets worked out.

I hate the 2-2-1 schedule because there is always at least one “quick-turn” (8 or, now, 9 hours between shifts) in there, and sometimes 2 each week. I can only speak for myself, but I would like to work a straight schedule. I hate that I am falling asleep on my drive home at 11pm on Monday, and am getting up at 4am on Friday to go to work (I don’t normally work midnight shifts).

There are 2 reasons for the 2-2-1 schedule (that I am aware of). It divides the traffic evenly so everyone stays current on their ability to work both busy and quiet traffic. A majority (I hear) of controllers prefer it because it compresses the work week into 4 days, giving a longer weekend. You may be done with work at 6am Friday and don’t have to be back until 3pm on Monday. With 2 little kids at home, I am sleep deprived enough as it is; I would take a set schedule any day.

They have been doing fatigue mitigation training for a while in the FAA, but the one thing they won’t allow is napping on breaks. They have proven that a 15 or 20 minute nap goes a long way to beating fatigue, but the FAA (and the DOT Secretary) say that they refuse to pay somebody to nap. They don’t seem to mind paying us to play video games, watch tv, run to the 7-Eleven, etc… on our breaks, so I don’t see why it’s an issue, when the industry has been pushing to allow cat naps for a while.

Even a 5 minute “power nap” is good for refreshing.

I don’t understand why they would object to a person sleeping on his *break *time. Isn’t the purpose of a break to get a break from what you are doing?

Why is it that a pilot must have 10 hours off but an ATC’er can work after being off 8 hours?

Makes no sense. I can’t see a jet that is climbing into my alt that I’m over taking but I have to rely on a guy with a sleep deficiency to keep me safe?
Come on FAA, for years us pilots have been screaming that 10 hours off isn’t enough time eat, sleep, sh*t shower and shave, if we had only 8 hours off every pilot would be asleep at the wheel.
But the guy working the local approach at JFK on a hard IFR day can be operating on 4 hours sleep?

This makes no sense, and the fact that there are controllers asleep on the job should be a wake up call. Every one of the guys fired should sue the crap out of the FAA. The FAA is liable for creating an unsafe work environment by not giving these guys enough time to sleep let alone do your daily chores or even p**p. :open_mouth: