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Air traffic controllers ask for nap breaks

WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- A union representing 15,000 U.S. air traffic controllers said it requested permission for workers to take nap breaks as part of their overnight shifts.

The provision for napping on late shifts is part of a list of recommendations from a government- and union-sponsored study and answers to recently publicized cases of air traffic controllers caught falling asleep on the job, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association challenged the Federal Aviation Administration to take the fatigue issue seriously, accusing it of turning "a blind eye" to the problem, the Journal reported.

"If we are serious about addressing controller fatigue, then every recommendation (from the study) must be adopted and implemented," said union President Paul Rinaldi.

The practice is common in European countries but has met with stiff resistance from the current administration in Washington. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said this week in an interview, "I don't expect to walk into a break room and see controllers napping, period."

The head of the FAA, Randy Babbitt, also has rejected the concept.

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