FAA needs to consider air traffic controller fatigue: report
Washington – The Federal Aviation Administration needs to take worker fatigue into account when estimating air traffic controller staffing levels and should work with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association to implement a tool to help facilities create efficient work schedules, according to a new report.
Released June 13 by the National Research Council and sponsored by the Department of Transportation, the report expressed concern about air traffic controller work schedules, especially when controllers work five eight-hour shifts over four consecutive days, concluding with a midnight shift. The schedule likely results in severely reduced cognitive performance during the midnight shift due to fatigue, the report states.
FAA has established a fatigue risk management program, but recent budget cuts eliminated the program’s ability to monitor fatigue concerns and investigate whether initiatives to reduce fatigue risks are working, according to the report.
FAA is reviewing the report and said in a statement to Safety+Health magazine that it has taken steps to ensure controllers are alert at work. The agency also said it has eliminated single staffing on overnight shifts and increased the minimum amount of time between shifts from eight hours to nine hours.