Thursday, April 14, 2011

Night shifts...

I've been following the dozing air traffic controller issue in the US a bit.
Mr Babbitt announced on Wednesday that the FAA would place an additional air traffic controller on the midnight shift at 27 control towers across the country; previously, they had been staffed with only one controller during that shift.
The issue rose to prominence last month when two jets were forced to land at about midnight at Reagan National Airport, just by Washington DC, without help from the local control tower. The pilots, who carried 165 people aboard the two planes, were unable to raise the tower controller on the radio, and a subsequent investigation revealed he had inadvertently fallen asleep during the shift.
This week, the FAA revealed that an air traffic controller at a major airport in Seattle had fallen asleep during a morning shift on Monday; the FAA said he had also fallen asleep on two separate occasions during an early evening shift on 6 January.
And a controller in the US state of Nevada was asleep and out of communication for about 16 minutes on Wednesday while a medical plane was landing, federal officials have said. An air traffic controller in Tennessee was found to have lain down for a nap during an overnight shift in February, the Washington Post reported.
I cannot for the life me figure out why anyone would think that a posting a lone air traffic controller on the night-shift was a good idea! Anyone who has worked nights understands there are moments when the body and mind go fuzzy. It doesn't matter how much sleep you've had the day before.


Cliff said...

I kind of enjoy the irony that it was Reagan International Airport, when it was Reagan who broke the air traffic controllers union, fired them all and reversed various union won workplace rules to protect against this kind of thing!

Greg said...

It's almost as if that union-thingie they used to have for air traffic controllers actually had some kind of benefit for the industry.

But that can't be. Everybody knows unions are greedy piles of bullshit that destroy the economy.l

harebell said...

I remember doing a 96 hour exercise up all around England and Scotland. Even though we were partnered up there were instances when both of the crew nodded off. Not such a big deal, but we were driving Bedford 4 tonners on a MSR at the time.
I feel for the guy but even two is not enough sometimes, shift work shortens life expectancy because it is tough on the body. Nope there needs to be a back-up checking routine as well.

Boris said...

I've been to the funerals of two soldiers killed in a car crash after attempting to drive home following a sleep deprivation exercise. My tally for the week was 127 sleepless hours. No one thought to keep the troops on ex for an extra day so they could sleep. They were completely preventable deaths.

harebell said...

Absolutely Boris
They are all totally preventable. Management at airport decided to save money and this was the way.
They have either forgotten what it is like to work those hours or they have never done it.
Some times its a bragging thing amongst officers about how long they can push their guys.
As a commercial driver we were limited to 9 hours a day with enforced breaks, for some reason the military think you can play war games in NBC outfits for 8 hours and then drive around on public roads for days on end and all will be fine.
Once got reamed out and put on parade for not wearing a seat belt though. The regular officer quoted the law of the land at me too. It was all I could do not to laugh in his face but I didn't fancy the 14 days it would have probably cost me.