A controller at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) was suspended Saturday for falling asleep on the midnight shift. The FAA said in a statement there were no missed calls or any disruption to control services. There were 12 controllers and two supervisors on duty at the time. Another controller noticed the sleeping controller and turned him in. The incident came hours after the midshift crew at the ARTCC was "given a briefing on professionalism and the importance of reporting to work fit for duty," according to a news release posted on the agency's Web site. Meanwhile, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt says the agency is putting a stop to scheduling practices it says contribute to controller fatigue.
The main change is a requirement that there be a minimum of nine hours between shifts for controllers, which should derail scheduling arrangements that some controllers reportedly used to get more time off in a row. The Washington Post reported last week that some controllers manipulate the schedules for a mix of shifts, including two graveyards, that results in them having a three-day weekend. Babbitt and NATCA President Paul Rinaldi will start a tour of ATC facilities nationwide on Monday in what is billed a Call to Action. "The goal of the Call to Action is to reinforce the need for all air traffic personnel to adhere to the highest professional standards," the agency statement said.