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Author Topic: Do you sleep enough?  (Read 6044 times)
MathFox
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The Flying Fox


« on: April 11, 2007, 07:03:42 PM »

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a report http://www.ntsb.gov/recs/letters/2007/A07_30_32.pdf on the dangers of fatigue in air traffic controllers. Basicly, the standard schedule doesn't give an ATC enough time to properly rest between shifts.
In view of the high percentage of controllers who work such schedules and the CAMI research, the probability is very high that controllers are sometimes working when they are significantly fatigued and are committing fundamental errors directly as a result of being fatigued. However, little progress has been made to revise controller-scheduling policies and practices in light of the latest research findings on controller fatigue.
I personally have experience with an 9 hour "rest" period between shifts and found that was generally not enough to be properly rested.
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NL_SPS_twr
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My office, SPS tower


« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2007, 09:44:38 PM »

we generally work 6 on 1 off with 8-10 hour shifts and we have to have 12 hours off between shifts but its not like we get overtime so it doesnt really matter.
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w0x0f
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2007, 10:43:48 AM »

A lack of rest is not an acceptable reason for the FAA to approve sick leave under the current imposed work rules (it's not a contract.)  Everyone here gets 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep each day, right?

Note that I didn't say each night.  Many of us work at night. 

It's easy for FAA types who work M-F office hours to say that it is the controller's responsibility to get adequate rest. 

  "We expect when controllers have rest periods that they will take advantage of that time to sleep and will be adequately rested when they report to work," said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown.

http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=2675317n

Things don't always go as planned, those with young children understand, and sometimes it would be more prudent to call off work in those cases.  What do you guys think about this?

w0x0f
« Last Edit: April 12, 2007, 10:51:10 AM by w0x0f » Logged
w0x0f
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2007, 10:59:49 AM »

Then there is this disgraceful episode.  This was just released to the press by NATCA.


Due to a staffing shortage at Gulfport Tower in Mississippi, the Federal Aviation Administration was forced last weekend to violate its own imposed work rules and deny proper bereavement leave to two controllers who suffered deaths in their immediate families.

Gulfport currently has 13 fully certified controllers and four trainees. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association believes the facility should have 19 controllers, which is the number both NATCA and the FAA agreed to before the Agency, just last month, threw out that staffing target due to budgetary reasons.

One controller was denied leave to travel from Gulfport to and from the viewing for her grandmother, a round trip of 10 driving hours.  The controller became visibly upset and was unable to work traffic after being told at the facility that they could not be released from duty to attend to their personal matters.

During negotiations between NATCA and the FAA on a new contract in 2005 and early 2006, the agency made it clear that bereavement leave shall be up to 10 days.

“This regrettable episode illustrates the importance of the just-released recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board regarding controller rest and fatigue issues,” National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Patrick Forrey said. “The Agency not only shortened these controllers’ bereavement leave from its imposed work rules to minimal time away due to staffing, but it expected these employees to come back to work immediately and be in top shape to work traffic.  The Agency tends to forget that these are human beings that do this important work and they need time to rest and to grieve so that they can recover and return to work in top form.”

Added NATCA Southern Regional Vice President Victor Santore: “This makes me embarrassed to be an FAA employee. This is some of the most heartless behavior I have ever seen in my 22 years as an FAA employee.”

-Doug Church

Director of Communications

National Air Traffic Controllers Association


 

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ogogog
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2007, 12:10:19 PM »

and that should suprise us?
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MathFox
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The Flying Fox


« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2007, 06:42:25 PM »

and that should suprise us?
I wonder what ogogog want wants to say with this...

The reason I posted the NTSB report is that, as a passenger (frequent flyer), I like to land safely. If a few simple schedule changes help to get fit controllers behind tube and mike, it would help aviation safety without costing any money. Pilots, passengers and even controllers benefit.
OTOH, when you hear stories about staffing shortages and controllers cramming 30 hours of work within 48 hours, you are getting doubts about your personal safety. I am not convinced that FAA management has my safety on their list of priorities. How big is the management influence on the controler's schedule?

(As a reply to w0x0f; I fear there is no time for training of Gulfport controllers.)
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w0x0f
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2007, 12:21:46 AM »

How big is the management influence on the controler's schedule?

The FAA took back total control of the work schedule with the imposed work rules of 9/3/06.  Here is a story which covers this issue http://cbs4.com/topstories/local_story_102161803.html

This is a relevant quote from that story.

"We'll certainly take a hard look at scheduling with the union, but many of the schedules that we have in place are at the request of our employees," FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown. She said the contract calls for at least eight hours off between shifts, but the FAA negotiates how controllers rotate through shifts with union locals at each facility.

"This is a very welcome report," said Doug Church, spokesman for the controllers union. "We're ready to meet tomorrow morning. This discussion has to be had and goes to the core of aviation safety."

Negotiations on a new contract broke down in April 2006, and the FAA imposed work rules last September, Church said.

"They wanted to take back the ability to control the schedule. There is an understaffing problem and controllers are being asked to come in for mandatory overtime," Church added. "The FAA did away with ability of controllers to use sick leave if they are not rested enough," as the previous contract allowed.


Here is a quote by Rick Ducharme, lead FAA negotiator, which was made on 9/5/06 at a so called "contract" briefing for all air traffic management in St Louis.  This should leave no doubt who controls the schedule.  Here is the transcript of the recording.

This contract was about control

That's what it was about

Controlling the schedules

Controlling annual leave

Controlling sick leave

Controlling DRESS CODE.




   
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EivlEvo
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2007, 01:04:04 AM »

I think its very safe to say that the feds talk the talk, but do they walk the walk? Meaning... yeah, we (pilots and controllers) have duty cycles. But flying over your duty cycle just means you get a longer rest day for most companies.

You'll never be "scheduled" to fly over ur companys max hrs/day. Thats illegal. But that doesn't mean they won't fly you over that. Especially if you happen to bust it while ur plane is loading up on the ramp @ JFK.

~DC
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LHP50
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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2007, 02:15:34 AM »

Wed night I get off work at either 8,9,or 10pm and am back on duty at 6:30 Thur morning.  I have a 30 min drive in between.  Do the math and assume I try to take a few minutes to remind my wife she has a husband.  Don't even talk about the sleep disruption caused by raising a family.  (2 am phone call? No problem.)  Some weeks it has been as bad as off duty Thur night at 9 pm, on duty Fri morning at 5:30 am and back in for the mid shift at 10 pm Fri night.  I did that one last week.
No, we are not well rested.  No, the FAA does not care.  Tired or not I will/must do the best job I can, I remember that lives are at stake even if the FAA doesn't.  I will keep you safe or die trying.  (Anyone feel like placing bets?  The FAA does)
I'm a little tired and cranky right now, want me working your planes?
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digger
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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2007, 08:00:55 AM »

If you guys are so tired, why don't you just take a little "power nap" on your breaks?

 grin
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MathFox
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The Flying Fox


« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2007, 11:21:58 AM »

I did the math on a 9 hours break between two shifts:
  • commute: 2*30 minutes = 1 hour
  • personal hygiene: 15 minutes
  • one hot and one cold meal: 30 + 15 = 45 minutes
Which leaves you with 7 hours of potential sleep (or 1 hour of family time and 6 hours of sleep).
If we assume that the controller planned for the 6 hours of sleep that he needs, then one telemarketeer can (unintentionally) increase the accident risk.
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RV1
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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2007, 02:53:29 PM »

Will work until 9:15 Sunday night. 35 min. commute home. Spend small amount of time with wife and/or three kids. Bed by 11. Up at 4:15 A.M. Leave by 4:30. Work by 5:15. Average quick turn. At least one per week. Power naps on break are NOT authorized. Disciplinary action is possible.
    FAA quote,  "Professional controllers are expected to arrive for duty well rested and ready to work."
    Now consider new hires that won't be making more than $37K, living on the East or West coast with high cost of living. Taking a second job to make ends meet. Perhaps he'll ask the Airbus pilot if he'd like to Supersize that!...
    Standard to live by,  "It is the dedication of the controllers worldwide that keep your safety as their priority, as opposed to the almighty dollar or Euro or Yen, or whatever currency is used..."
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Kick butt, take no names, they dont matter anyways
sierra yankee
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« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2007, 11:05:27 PM »

Power naps on break are NOT authorized.

WTF?  Why not?  That's bizarre.  In Canada we do the same sorts of things -- normally at least 10 hours between shifts, one "quick turn" (8 hours) allowed per cycle.  Lots of us do compressed work weeks -- typically four evening shifts (2:30-11), one swing (10-6:30) and ending on a day (6-2:30).  Regardless of which shift we're on, though, we're encouraged to nap on breaks if we need to, as long as we stay in the ready room where we can hear the PA if they need to page us back (fairly rare).

What kind of average time on position per shift are you guys working?  Here it varies between one hour on/one hour off on a slow day when we're plus staff, to two on/one off on busy or short-staffed days, but two on/one off is pretty rare.  I've read that some of the American ARTCCs average over 6.5 hours on position per 8-hour shift -- that sort of thing would cause a revolt up here!  Sounds like it would be pretty hard to get much of a nap in even if it were allowed.

I feel for you guys, it sounds like it's brutal.  Lately there have been some American controllers coming in under the experienced controller program at NavCan and I guess this sort of stuff is why.
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RV1
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« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2007, 11:23:14 PM »

    I'm sure every facility differs for time on position. Ours changes due to traffic and positions open, staffing for the day, etc. We usually run 1.5 hours on, 45 min. off. On 'Special events' it can be 2 hours on and 20 min. off. During the winter after sunset, it can be 1 on and 1 off. Napping isn't allowed. Period. Regardless of how many studies there are saying how that it can create a workforce that is making better, quicker and more beneficial decisions, the FAA doesn't buy it.
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digger
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« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2007, 12:25:20 AM »

Quote
Napping isn't allowed. Period.

I knew that when I asked the question.

Did I hear correctly (I believe it was posted on the NATCA web board recently), that an ATM somewhere has decreed that controllers are not even allowed to close their eyes while on break?
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