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Air | Fatigue | Federal agencies

OIG to FAA: Enforce air controller scheduling policies to fight fatigue

September 3, 2013

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Washington – The Federal Aviation Administration should more strictly enforce air traffic controller scheduling policies to help reduce controller fatigue, concludes a report issued Aug. 27 by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act directed OIG to review FAA’s air traffic controller scheduling practices in response to a series of incidents in recent years involving air traffic controllers who fell asleep or were unresponsive on the job. To investigate, OIG auditors reviewed a sample of air traffic controller schedules at 20 facilities over a 16-week period. The auditors found 279 violations of FAA’s policy that states controllers must take off at least nine hours between an evening and day shift, and 102 violations of FAA’s policy requiring controllers to take off at least eight hours between other shifts.

The auditors recommended FAA better monitor scheduling violations nationwide and enhance its timekeeping system to prevent controllers from signing in before their off-duty time expires. FAA concurred with each recommendation.

OIG stated it is requesting additional information on FAA’s midnight-shift break policies.