Wednesday, April 11, 2007

NTSB: Air controller fatigue contributed to 4 mishaps

It's about sweet time someone thinks it's a good idea to encourage more rest to increase alertness for air traffic controllers (ATC). The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) thinks so and sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following an investigation of the crash of Comair flight 5191 in Lexington, KY August 27 after the plane had been cleared for take off by an ATC working alone in the control tower while on his second shift in 24 hours.

In 2002, the FAA distributed self-study materials addressing shift work and fatigue to all air traffic control specialists (1), but perhaps structured naps and better schedules for ATCs as well as pilots would make sense. Common sense if you ask me. (If you dare, remind me to tell you sometime about the interview I did with a pilot in an airport restaurant. I asked him if there were any mechanisms in place for him to rest before a flight should he feel too sleepy to fly a plane, for whatever HUMAN reason... I warn you, this one will bother you if you fly).

When will society ever embrace that humans are not machines? I mean, seriously, what would be the downside of installing some of those nap pods in airports in pilot lounges or in ATC towers for scheduled rest periods? Ok, I'll get off the soapbox now.

Highlights of the NTSB/ FAA story released yesterday include:

Click here for photo of investigators studying the runway at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky on August 28, the day after a Comair jet crashed just after takeoff.


1. P.S. Della Rocco and T.E. Nesthus, "Shift Work and Air Traffic Control: Transitioning Research Results to the Workforce." In B. Kirwan, M.D. Rodgers, and Dirk Schaefer (Eds.), Human Factors Impacts In Air Traffic Management. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate (2005).
Be well, Sleep well,

Monday, April 9, 2007

Federal Funding for CDC Sleep and Sleep Disorders Activities

We can all make a difference. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) needs help from sleep professionals. The NSF and member organizations of the National Sleep Awareness Roundtable (NSART) are seeking funding for sleep activities at the CDC this year. This money will allow the CDC to start data collection and surveillance activities, create education and awareness materials for the public and health care professionals, and establish fellowship opportunities for promising researchers at universities and colleges. Please help by contacting Congress today!

For more information, please visit,

You can help secure funding for sleep-related programs at the CDC by e-mailing, calling, or faxing a letter to your Representative and Senators today. A sample letter is provided for you to personalize as much as possible (click here).

I encourage you to support the sleep field by contacting your legislators today.

Be well, Sleep well,