Report: Air traffic controller staffing should consider fatigue

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report notes the FAA’s models for determining air traffic controller staffing needs are suitable for developing initial estimates of the number of controllers required at terminal areas and airport towers, but the models used to staff the centers that control air traffic between airports can be improved.

The congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council also notes that the FAA should collaborate with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association to develop an enhanced tool capable of creating efficient controller work schedules that incorporate fatigue mitigation strategies.

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Controllers honored

Two Chicago Center controllers guided the pilot of a general aviation plane with icing conditions, a lost localizer and low fuel to a safe landing. A team of three Seattle Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) controllers directed the pilot of a plane that had run out of fuel at 3,200 feet to the nearest airport. A Denver Center controller saved the life of a pilot and his wife by instructing the pilot’s wife to an emergency landing route after the pilot became incapacitated from lack of oxygen during the plane’s ascent.

These three remarkable flights assists, and seven others from around the country were honored at the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s (NATCA) eighth annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards banquet, part of NATCA’s annual safety conference.

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