Say Longer Shifts, Shorter Breaks Mean Poor Safety
Controllers are grumbling about the
Palmdale outage... about staffing at O'Hare... and, in some cases,
they're grumbling about their new schedules.
The New York Times reports schedules at seven of the country's
busiest TRACONs have been juggled so that 70-percent of controllers
are at their radar consoles at any given time during their
FAA Administrator Blakey's office says the schedules will cut
costs and reduce errors. But controllers sure don't see it that
way. They say they're going longer and longer without breaks... in
fact, longer than the rules allow.
And they say, supervisors aren't given the flexibility to spell
a controller who, because of stress or some other extenuating
circumstance, really needs a little time away from the scope.
"It used to be an hour lunch, now it’s 45 minutes at
best," said NATCA regional VP Phil Barbarello, "and a half-hour
break is now 20 minutes at best. Your mind hasn’t even calmed
The TRACONs involved are in New York, Washington, DC, Northern
and Southern California, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta and
Union controllers say, in reality... the FAA is degrading TRACON
safety by shortening break times and forcing controllers to remain
at their consoles even during periods of light traffic.
One controller tells the Times... it's safer to have longer
breaks and handle a lot more traffic when you ARE working. As to
flexibility, the FAA says, there's plenty built-in to the system as
it stands now, thank you.