Report Shows Chronic Fatigue Among Air Traffic Controllers A Problem

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Asleep on the job. A new report shows chronic fatigue among air traffic controllers is an ongoing problem.

Christie Ileto explains how sleeping on the job can endanger the lives of those who fly every day.

The FAA says it’s made changes since the report, but for those who frequently fly, this is a wake up call.

Chronic fatigue on the job is highlighted in a revealing 2012 report, where 2 out of 10 air traffic controllers admit to making mistakes due to lack of sleep–like bringing planes too close together–while more than half confess to dozing off on their way to work overnight shifts.

The average amount of sleep for the 3,000 surveyed is less than six hours a night.

The report followed a fatal 2006 accident where air traffic control fatigue was a factor.

Towson attorney Keith Franz is an aviation expert.

“It is not adequate for safety of passengers that you have someone who’s done two shifts in a 24 hour period,” Franz said.

The most tiring schedules required controllers to several straight midnight shifts or six days a week for several weeks.

The controller at Washington National never answers, admitting in 2011 he fell asleep, forcing two planes to land themselves.

Nadra Tysus is a frequent flyer.

“It makes me afraid,” she said. “Not necessarily angry, but upset that that is not a priority for them to really think about everyone’s lives.”

More than a dozen recommendations to help prevent fatigue were laid out in the report, including getting rid of the six day a week schedules.

The question is will these recommendations be enough to fix a problem that’s been happening for years and is just now thoroughly being addressed.

The FAA says it began making changes in 2012. They include allowing rest breaks when no duties are assigned and requiring nine hours of rest between shifts.

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