Hello Frank,The frustration in that message is palpable. I don't pretend to know whether the suggestions of my correspondent have merit but I do know that current procedures aren't working and the extension of the break between controller shifts from eight hours to nine seems like an inadequate measure. Let us hope that the NTSB can provoke some fundamental rethinking around these issues.
I might be venting here a bit, but after many years of Air Traffic with the FAA, and a hitch as a Controller in the military, I think I can speak on behalf of a lot of controllers. My first thought is it makes me angry, all the negative press for a group that takes a beating day in and day out, where 95% of the general public has no clue what we do.
Does the FAA really think 9 hours between shifts is the answer? What frustrates me more than I can tell you is the NTSB after the Lexington accident said the shift work is a serious issue. Is there a reason everybody has to rotate shifts? Our facility has enough people that love to work either days or nights so this would not be an issue (sleeping at work), but the FAA refuses to let us do this. Myself, I am a night owl. I have always struggled with the morning shifts, getting off at 9pm, only to be back in at 5am. Does an extra hour help, hell no. Let me work nights, and let the folks who are early risers cover the morning shifts. We literally have enough folks to do this, but can't.
Does the FAA really think 9 hours is the fix to a controller who has a family that needs mom or dad, husband or wife, to be that, get rest, eat, sleep, s___, shower and be on his or her game? Instead of people who have never put on a headset, strapped in to pry airplanes apart making this decision, how about talking to the "average Joe" and this is solved. I truly love what I do. I truly hate my schedule. I have logged more than 100 hours of overtime this year already, and the work schedule makes life outside of work a disaster.
I can't talk to the news folks as that would get me fired, but the more sensible voices out there that know what we do, the better. I know you can't, and would not ask you to take this cause up, but the more educated voices the better. Let us solve this, and everyone is better....everyone. The system is already the safest in the world, but a flaw has been exposed, and if politicians are left to make the choices, ignoring the obvious fixes, risk that should and could be eliminated, won't.