A Waking Nightmare

Here it is folks ~ the long awaited, much anticipated and absolutely latest installment in FAA's long history of artificial incredulity and disingenuous scapegoating. I'll call it "The Waking Nightmare" in honor of those who fall asleep while reading this, then wake up to find they're still on duty. Although I am no longer a factor, I can still make a point out or two. Here are a few things I'd like to point out.

First of all, controllers and Supervisors have been napping on mid shifts for as far back as I can remember - sometimes deliberately and sometimes inadvertently. I can tell you it happened regularly in military facilities as well. Anyone out there care to deny it?

Is anyone surprised? Is this really a dirty little secret known only to the few insomniacs who never nodded off? I don't think so. Is sleeping while signed onto a control position a good idea? Absolutely not. But ponder this; Could catching a nap sometime during your shift be such a bad idea? By today's standards ~ yes. Ironically, I'm sure that FAA's field facilities and Regional Offices, the Hughes Technical Center, Monroney Aeronautical Center, that hideous Bauhaus box at 800 Independence Avenue and even NATCA's offices are all populated by more than a few former controllers who once slept on their mid-shifts. If anyone tells you otherwise, I'd say "let the sleeping dogs lie." Or is it "let the lying dogs sleep?" Guaranteed, it wouldn't be their first time.

I think we're overdue for a wake-up call. These are the people who, by now, could have initiated changes to FAA's utopian standards but apparently they're not being paid to provide upper Management with the occasional "reality check."

Here's another surprise. Frequent changes in people's work schedules and sleep cycles can bring on circadian dysrhythmia-like symptoms. Its a lot like jet lag. Consider also the fact that we humans are not nocturnal creatures. Neither are the super humans ~ like 7-Eleven clerks (Hey, I couldn't handle the job!) and air traffic controllers. We sleep at night. It's just a shame this news had to come as such a shock to some people. Is FAA's family so dysfunctional that it can never openly address and fix its ongoing problems before our fabled "Fourth Estate" pokes the flying public in the eye with them? Don't answer that.

© NLA Factor, 2011


AC2USN said...

The 2-2-1 requires five shifts in eighty-eight hours and two cycles of sixteen duty hours in a twenty-four hour period (two double backs). The FAA promotes this rotation to allow all to be familiar with the the traffic load on different days / shifts. Why: system needs as we are 24/7/365. The compressed work week also places the controller on the available for overtime / call back for two more additional shifts, from the first afternoon shift on the individuals weekend through the last midnight shift of the weekend.

As I have been told during my tenure, sleep is not required.

No Longer a Factor said...

Thanks for writing sir. I agree that sleep is never required - if you're in your early twenties! My USAF shift rotation (2-2-2) started with two evening shifts. After the second evening, we'd double back to dayshift the following morning. Then, if you were a lucky low man on the team, you'd double back to mids the evening of your second dayshift. Whew! On the plus side; mid shift guys got off at 7:00 AM after their second mid, then got two days off and didn't have to go back to work until 3:00 PM on their first duty day. So you could leave work...say...Friday morning, get Saturday and Sunday off, then go back to work Monday afternoon. Sweet! I loved it back then but it would have killed me by the time I reached my late thirties and forties.