The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it is seeking advice from a panel of sleep and fatigue experts to identify new ways to address air traffic controller (ATC) fatigue.
The announcement comes in the midst of an ATC shortage, which has often resulted in mandatory overtime and six-day workweeks, in addition to the FAA unveiling plans to establish a regulatory committee to address mental health issues in aviation.
According to the FAA, the three-member panel “will examine how the latest science on sleep needs and fatigue considerations could be applied to controller work requirements and scheduling” to identify ways the FAA could better remedy the problem.
The panel, led by chairman Mark Rosekind, a safety and sleep/fatigue professional and former member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), will begin its work in early January and provide a final report to the FAA approximately six weeks later.
In addition to Rosekind, other panel members include Charles Czeisler, chief and senior physician, Division of Circadian and Sleep Disorders, Departments of Medicine and Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans, director, NASA Ames Center. Research Center Fatigue Countermeasures Laboratory.
A recent report stated that fatigue has gotten so bad that some air traffic controllers have been using drugs and alcohol to manage stress.