FAA to Change Air Traffic Controllers' Schedules

By: Tara Mergener Email
By: Tara Mergener Email

Washington, D.C.-

Two top air safety officials are criss-crossing the country with one message in mind: the government won't tolerate air traffic controllers sleeping on the job. They're moving quickly to change policies and, they're asking controllers for their input.

The head of the air traffic controllers' union - and the FAA chief - kicked off a coast-to-coast tour to stress their boss's new bottom line.

"we're not gonna pay controllers to nap," said Randy Babbitt, FAA Administrator

Talking with controllers at the nation's busiest airport - Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta - the head of the FAA said, he's open to suggestions on how to keep controllers from falling asleep on the job

"all of us have a stake in this - all of us have accountability in this - and all of us are gonna work together to make sure it doesn't happen again."

There have been at least 5-incidents of controllers nodding off while at work in recent weeks. The latest was on Saturday in Miami - at a facility that handles long-distance flights.

Controllers in the towers will be under new rules, starting this week. They will have at least 9-hours off between shifts. And, there will be more managers on duty during early-morning and late-night shifts.

Traveler Kip Wait, weighed in saying "I think they're headed in the right direction and i think they're well aware of the problem."

Even though some travelers approve of the new rules -- others say - they're still nervous.

Claudia Dougherty adds "anybody else would be fired for falling asleep on the job... And for an air traffic controller, it's even more important."

FAA officials are counting on their cross-country tour - and their announcement of new work rules -- to win back travelers' confidence.

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