NTSB: Controllers who nap perform better

April 26, 2011 at 1:00 PM

WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has joined union officials in calling for air traffic controllers to be allowed to nap during breaks.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood oppose napping, The Wall Street Journal reports. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association also objects to the FAA's handling of controllers caught nodding off on the job, especially the proposed dismissal of a controller in Miami.

Last Friday, Randy Babbitt, the head of the FAA, and Paul Rinaldi, the union president, canceled a scheduled joint meeting with controllers in Virginia. Doug Church, a spokesman for the union, said the joint appearances are "back on track" after a private meeting between the two men.

Mark Rosekind, a fatigue expert and member of the NTSB, supported "controlled napping" Monday.

"For 30 years, the board has identified fatigue as an issue with controllers' schedules," Rosekind said.

He said research has shown controllers perform better when they are allowed to take naps of up to half an hour, especially those working the midnight shift.

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