Air controllers still under scrutiny

June 15, 2012 at 4:56 PM

WASHINGTON, June 15 (UPI) -- U.S. air traffic controllers have violated regulations intended to stop sleeping on the job nearly 4,000 times, FAA documents indicate.

The Washington Post Friday said the number of dozing-on-the job and other incidents from January through May was revealed in a June 4 internal memo to more than 400 Federal Aviation Administration managers. Violations were reported at more than 50 percent of U.S. airport control towers, with one facility repeatedly breaking the rules enacted after a controller fell asleep at work last year in the Reagan National Airport tower near Washington.

The pilots of two late-night flights landed on their own when they couldn't contact a napping controller supervisor who was working an overnight shift alone.

New regulations ended solo midnight shifts in control towers, quick turnarounds, some shift trading and scheduling that allowed some controllers to work 40 hours in just four days.

"A vast majority of employees are meeting the requirement for nine consecutive hours of rest between shifts," FAA Chief Operations Officer David Grizzle said. "There are 12,000 shifts per month across the country, and in some cases, employees were a few minutes early."

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