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Another air traffic controller falls asleep on the job

April 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
High-level negotiations were under way Saturday night between the government and the controllers' union to work out new rules to ban scheduling practices that can cause fatigue.

There have now been seven controllers believed to have fallen asleep on the job on the midnight shift since the start of the year.

The Federal Aviation Administration said another controller fell asleep early Saturday morning at a radar facility in Miami. Officials suspended the controller.

Controllers often bounce from morning shifts to afternoon and night shifts, leaving little time for the body to adjust.

A recent study found that for controllers "Acute fatigue occurs on a daily basis" and "Fatigue can occur at any time, on any shift." That's something the head of the union acknowledged this week.

"We have a fatigue issue," said Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "We have a high stress occupation that works around the clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."