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Air controllers asleep on the job



Published: Tue, July 1, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Miami Herald: The news has been scarier than usual: Iraq is on the boil, which has serious implications for U.S. security; random and mass-shooting tragedies seem to be coming at us weekly.

Add to these the fact that air traffic controllers are too sleepy, and anyone who boards a plane should be very afraid. The controllers are suffering from chronic fatigue while on the job — the task of keeping the millions of people who fly from here to there safe in the air. It remains a major threat to the safety of the flying public that the Federal Aviation Administration must address immediately.

It’s not as if the FAA had no idea that too many of its 15,000 air traffic controllers are at risk of nodding off or sluggish thinking.

Three years ago, it was disclosed that there were controllers who were falling asleep in front of their screens, which forced the FAA to take a closer look at work scheduling, which has contributed to the problem.

The FAA is confronting a deluge of retirements. Controllers are required to retire when they turn 56. The agency will have to replace about two-thirds of this workforce — 10,000 controllers — during the next 10 years.

Flying shouldn’t be a crap shoot because someone was asleep at the switch.


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