FAA, air traffic controllers agree on sleep

”Davidson”

In the wake of reports of air traffic controllers falling asleep, the Federal Aviation Administration has announced that it and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) have reached an agreement on fatigue regulations.

The FAA said the agreement reinforces existing policy against air traffic controllers sleeping on the job. The agency and NATCA also said controllers need to show up for work alert and well-rested.

“Air traffic controllers have the responsibility to report rested and ready to work so they can safely perform their operational duties,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt in a news release.  “But we also need to make sure we have the right policies in place to reduce the possibility of fatigue in the workplace.”

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said: “We supported the FAA's action to enhance aviation safety by eliminating single staffing on the midnight shift and we fully support these recommendations that address fatigue. They are common sense solutions to a safety problem that NATCA and fatigue experts have consistently raised for many years."

Controllers now will be allowed to listen to the radio and read from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., as traffic permits.

“The FAA has also agreed to develop policies that will encourage air traffic controllers to seek medical help for sleep apnea,” according to the agency’s news release. “Currently, air traffic controllers lose their medical qualification if they are diagnosed with sleep apnea.”

federaldiary@washpost.com

Follow the Federal Diary on Twitter: @joedavidsonWP.

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.

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