Fatigue. Is that something you want the air traffic controller or pilots to be experiencing while you fly?
So did fatigue play any role in the plane crash in Lexington, Ky. last week? You bet it did.
The pilots flew on the turn around shift after little sleep. Normal? Oh, yes. The air traffic controller had a grand total of two hours sleep in 24 hours. A common occurance? Absolutely.
Anyone out there wonder why there was only one air traffic controller on duty in Lexington that morning? The FAA is cutting costs and corners all over the place including in refusing to staff two controllers during the quiet hours of midnight to six a.m. The controller in that tower was forced to consolidate his tower and radar duties as noone else was scheduled to help. It happens everyday across this nation. Do you think him checking the radar or on some other plane after confirming the correct runway with the pilots of that flight puts him at fault? Marian Blakely, head of the FAA, is either blatantly lying or does not have the slightest understanding of how air traffic controlling works when she proclaimed something along the lines of, "Whether or not another person had been there, the crash in Lexington would have happened anyway." That unfortunate controller could have visually followed that wayward plane if he had not had other duties, like radar, for which another controller could have been responsible.
This summer, 36% of congress failed to vote for further negotiations between the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) specifically on the issues of safety and fatigue imposed by the FAA cost cutting measures. The FAA painted air traffic controllers as whiney, greedy and lazy, and for some unknown reason, 36% of congress agreed. Maybe, just maybe congress will wake from its slumber to re-evaluate. The FAA is becoming an enemy of the people rather than the government servant it is intended to be.
A personal reflection
My sweet husband leaves the house a little after 5 a.m. on Monday to be at work by 6 a.m. He arrives home around 3 p.m. He rarely tries to nap as it's the middle of the day and because we'll have a family dinner, soccer for Wise One, Scouts for Peace, dance for Pooh Bear, and soccer in another town for Tater in the few hours between his next shift. He'll leave the same Monday evening for work around 10 p.m. and return after 7 a.m. on Tuesday. Though study after study indicates a nap produces better work, the FAA has completely ruled out napping on breaks. And of course, no breaks are allowed when the last controller leaves my husband at midnight in the tower alone until the next shift workers appear at 6 a.m. Yes, you read that correctly. NO breaks, not even for the potty or a drink from midnight to 6 a.m. in the event no other controller is scheduled or one gets sick. My buddies Helen and Clay tell me they'd be sued to kingdom come if they didn't provide appropriate breaks for their private business employees. However, my husband's employee IS the government and the FAA makes the rules.
Why so much fatigue in air traffic controllers besides the crazy hours?
There is a national shortage of air traffic controllers.
Philadelphia is 40 controllers short. No to worry, Albaquerque Center lacks 100 necessary employees. Even little old Knoxville will be short very soon as many retire under harsh FAA treatment. And the FAA has the nerve to insist NATCA consider their unwanted measures to be some sort of contract without any kind of vote. Believe me, the FAA would not get a favorable vote from NATCA members at this point.
And the strategy of the FAA to overcome the shortage?
Pay new people off the street less than miniumum wage to train and offer the top salary of $31,000 per year after whether they work at O'Hare or Knoxville. And how safe does it sound to hire people off the street to work at the busiest airport in the nation anyway?
Mandatory overtime for controllers, 10 hour shifts, 6 days a week.
I am not joking.
No guaranteed vacation. If a family plans a trip, air traffic controllers can be called back to work smack dab in the middle.
Breaks, which formerly were scheduled every two hours for safety reasons, are no longer neccesary at all according to the FAA.
Sick days can be denied. Wouldn't a nice case of diaherria coupled with no breaks equal disaster?
FAA policy: Work ones who hold thousands of lives in their hands harder and longer.
If you think this is a bad idea, you might just want to drop a note saying so to your congressman. Ours apparently finds my husband and all others in his professsion to be whiney, lazy, and greedy.
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