Miami air traffic controller falls asleep

April 16, 2011 at 5:30 PM

WASHINGTON, April 16 (UPI) -- The Federal Aviation Administration said an air traffic controller fell asleep in Miami Saturday, prompting a change to the workers' taxing schedules.

The Miami case is the seventh incident this year in which a controller has been suspended for falling asleep on the job, The Washington Post reported.

"We are taking important steps today that will make a real difference in fighting air traffic controller fatigue. But we know we will need to do more. This is just the beginning," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said.

Some schedules require controllers to be back on the job 8 hours after finishing their previous shift, a demand some experts say causes chronic fatigue.

At least 28 control facilities have scheduled a single controller on the overnight shift, a practice Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood ended this week.

"We are taking swift action to ensure the safety of our aviation system," LaHood said Saturday. "There is no excuse for air traffic controllers to be sleeping on the job. We will do everything we can to put an end to this."

Saturday's incident at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center had no operational impact because the sleeping controller did not miss any calls, the newspaper said.

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