Nap Ban Rouses Controller Protest

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Among the FAA's new work rules imposed on air traffic controllers last week was a ban on napping during breaks and, predictably perhaps, the agency and the controllers union differ on the impact of such a rule. "Even though they're on break, they can be called back to work at any time," FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told The Associated Press. "If they had to be called back to work traffic and they had been sleeping, they would be groggy." But Dave O'Malley, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association representative at the Indianapolis center, said controllers on the night shift, particularly, can go hours without a flight before getting very busy toward the end of the shift. "It just ambiguous and punitive," he told the AP. "The work itself requires you to rest and recoup between sessions," O'Malley said. The nap ban is nothing new in FAA regs but its universal application is. Before the latest imposed contract, controllers were able to negotiate side deals with management at individual air traffic control facilities. Indianapolis controllers had won the right to nap even though FAA policy was against the practice. Imposition of the contract, which took place Sept. 3, voided all the local agreements.