Air Traffic Control: Potential Fatigue Factors   [open pdf - 130KB]

"This report presents the results of our audit of fatigue factors that could impact air traffic controllers. We conducted this audit at three critical Chicago air traffic control facilities at the request of Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois. These 3 facilities are among the top 10 busiest in the United States, and Senator Durbin expressed concerns that staffing shortfalls, longer hours on the job, and a growing shortage of certified controllers may be causing controller fatigue. Accordingly, our audit objectives were to (1) identify and evaluate key factors that could cause controller fatigue at Chicago O'Hare International Airport Air Traffic Control Tower, Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility, and Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center and (2) identify what measures FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] has taken to mitigate potential controller fatigue at these locations. We identified a number of factors at these three facilities that could create potential fatigue conditions for controllers. These include minimal hours between shifts; scheduled overtime; and on-the-job training, which requires a high level of concentration and focus from the instructing controller. Facility personnel also identified other factors that could cause fatigue, including inadequate staffing levels, increased work load (i.e., traffic volume and complexity), and extended time on position or lack of position rotation. [...] While our review focused on only the three Chicago facilities, it is likely that the fatigue factors that we identified exist at other large air traffic control facilities throughout the Nation. Our recommendations focus on actions FAA needs to take at the national level to mitigate potential fatigue factors and enhance the level of safety of the National Airspace System. FAA generally concurred with our recommendations."

Report Number:
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
United States Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General: http://www.oig.dot.gov/
Media Type:
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