Another air traffic controller has been caught snoozing -- this time, in Miami.
Immediately after a pep talk about professionalism on the job, an air traffic controller fell asleep early Saturday during the midnight shift at the Miami Air Route Control Center.
The center, located near but not in Miami International Airport, handles about 425,000 square miles of air traffic, including all planes 40 miles and 10,000 feet above their takeoff destination and most international flights heading to the Caribbean and Latin America.
Authorities do not believe the controller missed any calls from any planes, but they are thinking beyond a timely Cuban coffee break: the FAA shortly vowed to revamp shift schedules in an effort to combat on-the-job fatigue.
“We are taking swift action to ensure the safety of our aviation system,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said in a statement. “There is no excuse for air traffic controllers to be sleeping on the job. We will do everything we can to put an end to this.”
The Miami incident marked the seventh time this year -- and fifth time since March -- an American air traffic controller has been caught sleeping.
“It is never acceptable when we don’t provide the level of service expected and required of us on every shift," responded National Air Traffic Controllers Association president Paul Rinaldi, suggesting scheduling practices contribute heavily to the problem. "We...believe fatigue is a significant factor in these instances."
The napper, one of a dozen air traffic controllers on duty during the overnight shift, was reported to management by a co-worker. He has been suspended from work.