For Immediate Release

April 16, 2011


WASHINGTON – Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt announced today that he is prohibiting scheduling practices that have been identified as those most likely to result in air traffic controller fatigue. The changes will be effective within 72 hours.
 
Discussions with the National Air Traffic Controllers Union (NATCA) are underway and more details will be released soon.

“We are taking swift action to ensure the safety of our aviation system," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "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."

“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,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. 

The FAA suspended an air traffic controller early this morning for falling asleep while on duty during the midnight shift at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center.

According to a preliminary review of air traffic tapes, the controller did not miss any calls from aircraft and there was no operational impact.  Prior to the start of the shift, all controllers were given a briefing on professionalism and the importance of reporting to work fit for duty.  The incident was reported to a manager by another controller.  There were 12 controllers on duty and two managers. 

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt were briefed on the incident early this morning by David Grizzle, acting chief operating officer of the Air Traffic Organization.

Last Wednesday, Secretary LaHood and FAA Administrator Babbitt announced that the FAA would place an additional air traffic controller on the midnight shift at airport control towers and other facilities around the country that were staffed with only one controller during that time.

On Monday, FAA Administrator Babbitt and NATCA President Paul Rinaldi will begin meetings at air traffic facilities around the country as part of a nationwide Call to Action on air traffic control safety and professionalism.  The goal of the Call to Action is to reinforce the need for all air traffic personnel to adhere to the highest professional standards.

Press Contact: Laura Brown (laura.j.brown@faa.gov) // Sasha Johnson (sasha.j.johnson@faa.gov)

###